LOS ANGELES – Fans and fellow actors mourned Sunday the death of Paul Walker, best known as undercover agent Brian O’Connor in the “Fast and Furious” action movies, in an fiery car crash in California.
Walker, 40, appeared in all but one of the six movies in the popular franchise, and was a leading protagonist along with Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez.
“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 organization Reach Out Worldwide,” the late actor’s publicists wrote on his Facebook account on Saturday.
“He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in which both lost their lives.”
The publicists wrote that they were “stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news.” The message was also linked to Walker’s Twitter account.
Walker was killed when the red Porsche sports car he was traveling in slammed into a tree and caught fire around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in the town of Santa Clarita, in Los Angeles county, local media reported.
Witnesses recognized Walker and one onlooker even tried to pull him from the wreckage, the local Santa Clarita Valley Signal newspaper reported.
Walker was taking a Thanksgiving break from filming the seventh “Fast and Furious” movie, which had been scheduled for release in July.
The crew had filmed in Atlanta and were set to travel to Abu Dhabi in January, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Walker had been at an event to raise money for victims of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in the Philippines for Reach Out Worldwide, a non-profit disaster relief group the actor founded.
ROWW has sent teams of experts to help in natural disasters such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and tornado-stricken towns in the United States.
“Brother I will miss you very much,” wrote Hollywood star Diesel on his Instagram account. “I am absolutely speechless. Heaven has gained a new Angel. Rest in Peace.”
Another “Fast and Furious” co-star, Ludacris, wrote on Twitter: “Your humble spirit was felt from the start, wherever you blessed your presence you always left a mark, we were like brothers & our birthdays are only 1 day apart, now You will forever hold a place in all of our hearts @paulwalker legacy will live on forever.”
The late actor is survived by his 15-year-old daughter Meadow.
Walker was also set to star in the 2014 crime-action film “Brick Mansions,” a remake of the 2004 French movie District B13.
Before his “Fast and Furious” breakthrough Walker was a teen heartthrob, appearing in such movies as “Pleasantville” (1988), “She’s All That” and “Varsity Blues” (both 1999).
The first “Fast and Furious” movie appeared in 2001.
The series, with its focus on fast cars, tough guys, hot starlets and exotic locales, is one of Hollywood’s most lucrative global franchises.