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Fast & Furious star Paul Walker killed in car crash

Fast & Furious 5

Story by Jack Foley

PAUL Walker, one of the stars of the Fast & Furious franchise, has been killed in a car crash in California.

The actor, aged 40, was a passenger in a Porsche that was being driven by a friend when it crashed north of Los Angeles, killing both occupants.

Walker had reportedly been attending a charity event at the time of the tragedy.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department, the crash occurred in the community of Valencia. Officers responding to reports of a collision arrived to find a car engulfed by flames with the two people found inside pronounced dead at the scene.

A statement issued on Walker’s Facebook page announced: “It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organisation Reach Out Worldwide.

“He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in which both lost their lives. We… are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news.”

Universal Pictures also issued a statement, saying studio staff were “heartbroken” by the news.

“Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the Fast & Furious films, and to countless fans. We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Paul’s family.”

Walker played undercover agent Brian O’Conner in all but one of the the seven Fast & Furious movies. The sixth installment, released this summer, has since become one of the highest grossing films in Universal’s history, while a seventh – due out next summer – is in production.

Walker was one of the leading protagonists, along with Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez.

Diesel said in a post on Instagram: “Brother I will miss you very much. I am absolutely speechless. Heaven has gained a new Angel. Rest in Peace.”

It is too early to say how Walker’s death will impact the franchise. The actor had only recently said that an eighth film was guaranteed.

Reflecting on the success of the franchise, he said: “[After Tokyo Drift, the third film] they were going to do a direct-to-video 4. They were going to dispose it and be done with it. But then, Vin was like, ‘No, I’ll come in for a cameo,’ because it wasn’t testing well. He wanted to set up the fourth one and the studio went for it, and we got a second life.”

Away from the Fast & Furious franchise, Walker was also known for roles in Disney’s Eight Below and Clint Eastwood’s Flags of our Fathers. He was also due to release the suspense drama Hours in US cinemas this month.

Read our obituary and tributes