APNewsBreak: Speed to blame for Paul Walker crash
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Porsche carrying "Fast & Furious" star Paul Walker was traveling about 90 mph when it went out of control on a suburban street and crashed, killing the actor and his friend, according to an investigation by law enforcement agencies into the November accident.
The sports car driven by Roger Rodas slammed into a light pole that had a 45 mph speed limit sign, and it burst into flames. Walker and Rodas died at the scene.
Investigators concluded that unsafe driving, not mechanical problems, caused the crash, according to a person who has reviewed a report by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and California Highway Patrol. Investigators calculated that Rodas was driving between 81 mph and 94 mph when his 2005 Porsche Carrera GT began to drift after coming out of a curve.
"The vehicle had no mechanical failure and the damage that occurred to the vehicle was from the collision," accident reconstruction specialists with the Highway Patrol wrote, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report has not been officially released yet.
A spokeswoman said Tuesday that the Sheriff's Department had no new information to release regarding the investigation into the Nov. 30 crash.
"We will have something in the very near future," department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida wrote in an email. The CHP declined comment.
The Associated Press reported in December that investigators had found no evidence that the car had mechanical problems and ruled out debris or other roadway conditions.
Subsequently, Porsche sent engineers to California to review the rare car's wreckage. Though it was badly mangled and burned, the engineers were able to do a thorough analysis. They found no problems with the car's electrical systems, brakes, throttle, fuel system, steering, suspension or other systems.
Porsche declined a request for comment Tuesday.
The conclusion about the speed was based on a "yaw" mark that one of the car's tires left on the road in an area of industrial office parks in Santa Clarita, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Witnesses told a sheriff's deputy that they thought the car could have been traveling in excess of 100 mph.
Post-crash investigators noted several issues with the condition of the car, which had several prior owners, including IndyCar driver Graham Rahal:
—Its original exhaust system had been modified in a way that could allow it to go faster, but also could have been done to change its sound.
—Its tires were about nine years old; the owner's manual suggests changing the tires after four years.
—Its left rear brake rotor was worn below manufacturer specifications, but that did not contribute to the crash.
Rodas, 38, and Walker, 40, had taken what was supposed to be a quick ride from a fundraiser benefiting Reach Out Worldwide, a Walker charity that gives first-response aid to victims of natural disasters. The crash occurred near the fundraiser, and horrified friends of the men raced to the scene.
While Rodas was Walker's financial adviser, the two had bonded over their shared love of fast cars. They co-owned an auto racing team named after Rodas' shop, Always Evolving, and Rodas drove professionally for the team on the Pirelli World Challenge circuit in 2013.
Walker starred in all but one of the six "Fast & Furious" blockbusters, which glorify muscular cars and risky driving.
Contact Justin Pritchard at https://twitter.com/lalanewsman . AP Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer in Charlotte, N.C., also contributed to this report.