The high-performance Porsche that "Fast & Furious" actor Paul Walker was riding in may have been traveling more than 93 mph, too fast for the curvy road in a Santa Clarita business park where it crashed and burst into flames, killing him and the driver, an L.A. County Sheriff's Department investigation has found.
By using road marks left by the vehicle, investigators determined that the Porsche's speed was 80.59 mph to 93.97 mph. That would mean that the red 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, driven by Walker's friend Roger Rodas, was traveling about twice the 45 mph limit on Hercules Street when it crashed Nov. 30.
"Investigators determined the cause of the fatal solo-vehicle collision was unsafe speed for the roadway conditions," sheriff's Cmdr. Mike Parker said.
Sheriff's and California Highway Patrol crash experts found no evidence of any car system failures. But at least two of the tires were more than nine years old; Porsche recommends that tires be replaced after four years. As a result, CHP investigators wrote that "the driveability and handling characteristics" of the car "may have been compromised."
Investigators also noted that the Porsche's horsepower had been boosted by an aftermarket exhaust system.
An earlier L.A. County coroner's report had pegged the speed at more than 100 mph, but the traffic analysis determined that it was a bit slower. That analysis was based on markings the vehicle left known as yaw marks, which occur when a driver steers sharply.
According to investigators, the Porsche took the sweeping right turn, veered, then hit the opposite curb, sending the car into a tree and then a light pole with tremendous force. The car spun and hit another tree on the vehicle's passenger side, then split into two pieces and caught fire.
Walker, 40, and Rodas, 38, a veteran race car driver, were killed almost instantly, succumbing to multiple traumatic injuries and the fire. Their bodies were found braced for impact in a "pugilistic" stance, according to the coroner's report.
Investigators spent months examining videos, interviewing witnesses and working with experts from Porsche in Germany and tire manufacturer Michelin to determine the cause of the crash. According to sheriff's and CHP reports, no useful electronic data was retrieved from the car's computers.
After reviewing footage from numerous security cameras in the business park and talking to several witnesses, investigators found no evidence that the Porsche was racing another vehicle, according to the report. The four-lane road is part of a business park loop in Rye Canyon near a car company owned by Rodas and Walker.
"No witnesses have reported seeing a second vehicle," Parker said.
After the 2001 premiere of "The Fast and the Furious," Walker had become the face of the Southern California car culture. While the movie spawned a billion-dollar franchise, Walker kept his street credibility by driving a Nissan Skyline GT-R, appearing at events and investing in an auto racing business with Rodas, who was also his financial advisor. They were taking a short ride at a charity event when the crash occurred.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times