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Paul Walker death: new report blames speed, tyres

Date

Richard Winton

Firefighters next to the wreckage of the Porsche that crashed  killing Paul Walker and Roger Roda in November 2013.

Firefighters next to the wreckage of the Porsche that crashed killing Paul Walker and Roger Roda in November 2013. Photo: AP

The high-performance Porsche that Fast & Furious actor Paul Walker was riding in was travelling up to 150km/h when it crashed and burst into flames, killing him and the driver, an LA County Sheriff's investigation has found.

The rate of speed was determined using surveillance videos and electronic data retrieved from the car's computers with the help of the car maker. That would mean that the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, driven by Walker's friend, Roger Rodas, was travelling about twice the 70km/h limit when it crashed on November 30 on a curvy road in a Santa Clarita business park.

Investigators also determined that a pair of nine-year-old tyres contributed to the crash, not a mechanical failure. There was no evidence of any car system failures, such as the brakes, according to the report.

Fast and Furious star Paul Walker was a regular at racing events.

Fast and Furious star Paul Walker was a regular at racing events. Photo: Getty Images

Rodas was a veteran race car driver, but the speed into a tight curve proved too much, investigators with the sheriff's department and California Highway Patrol found.

An earlier LA County coroner's report had pegged the speed as being more than 160km/h, but the traffic analysis in the recent report determined it was a bit slower.

Walker and Rodas were killed almost instantly, succumbing to multiple traumatic injuries and a fire that quickly consumed the car.

Walker died of "severe blunt head, neck and chest trauma", sustaining a broken arm, wrist, jaw and ribs, according to the coroner's report. The fire burned his body beyond recognition.

Rodas suffered similar injuries and a fractured skull.

Investigators spent months examining the videos, interviewing potential witnesses and working with experts from Porsche in Germany and tyre manufacturer Michelin to determine the cause of the deadly crash.

After reviewing numerous security videos from cameras around the business park, investigators found no evidence that the pair was racing against any other vehicle, according to the report. The four-lane road is part of a business park loop in Rye Canyon near a car company that was owned by Rodas and Walker.

Skid marks and video revealed that the car spun out of control and hit the pavement, sending it smashing into a tree and a light post with tremendous force.

Rodas' and Walker's bodies were found braced for impact in a "pugilistic" stance, the report said.

Since the 2001 debut of The Fast and the Furious, Walker had become the face of the southern California car culture. While the movie became a billion-dollar movie franchise, Walker kept his street credibility by driving a Nissan Skyline GT-R, appearing at races and investing in a super-car business.

The 2005 Porsche Carrera GT has a history of being difficult to control. The sports car is capable of reaching 160km/h in less than seven seconds. But it was built without the stability management systems now mandatory on all passenger cars.

The data taken from the car allowed investigators to determine engine speed, the throttle position and airbag deployment at the time of the crash.

Los Angeles Times

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