Vin Diesel has visited the site of the car crash that killed his Fast & Furious co-star Paul Walker, thanking mourners for paying their respects to the actor.
Diesel’s remarks on Monday night came at the end of a candlelight vigil for Walker and his friend and fellow fast-car enthusiast Roger Rodas. They died on Saturday when Rodas’ red Porsche smashed into a light pole and tree, then exploded into flames.
Fans have been gathering at the crash site to leave flowers, candles and memorabilia from the action movies.
Diesel thanked the people for “showing that angel up in heaven how much you appreciated him”.
In a tearful on-camera interview, Walker’s distraught father, Paul Sr, struggled to speak about the heart-wrenching loss of his son.
“His heart was so big,” he told CBS, barely able to speak. “I was proud of him every single day of his life.”
Walker, 40, died on Saturday. The Fast & Furious star had left an event held by his charity organisation, Reach Out Worldwide, for what he intended to be a short ride with his friend, Roger Rodas. He never returned. Rodas’ Porsche collided with a light pole and exploded, taking both their lives in the destruction.
“I’m just glad that every time I saw him, I told him I loved him,” his father said. He broke into a sob, adding, “And he said the same to me.”
Paul Sr’s three remaining sons are said to be “taking it pretty hard”. Friends and family gathered at Walker’s childhood home to show their support and mourn his loss.
Abrianna Atwell, Walker’s best friend and on-and-off girlfriend for over a decade, had an especially difficult week.
She lost her 63-year-old father to cancer on November 25. After days of planning David Atwell’s funeral, she went out to celebrate his memory with friends when she received an unexpected text from one of Walker’s close friends: “Call me please”.
“In my gut, I knew something was wrong,” Atwell told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Atwell spoke to Walker on the day her father died.
“Paul was going to be with me on the day of my dad’s service,” she told the Las Vegas Sun. “He was the most generous, unconditionally loving person I’ve known. He gave everything. I will live my life to the fullest extent for my father and Paul.”
Her father, a prominent real estate broker, was a big fan of Walker himself; he wrote him a letter a week before he succumbed to cancer.
“My dad told him how much he loved him and how much he appreciated him protecting me. It was an overdue expression of gratitude,” she said.
Atwell had known Walker for 12 years. They travelled the world and occasionally lived together.
“It’s just overwhelming… so much shock to my heart,” Atwell told the Journal.
Of Walker’s relationship with cars, she stated that he loved Porsches. He was “a huge exotic car enthusiast and not just because of the Fast & Furious influence.”
“I’m sure a bit of speed was involved,” she said.
The person Atwell is most worried about is Walker’s 15-year-old daughter, Meadow Walker.
“Paul was so committed to her,” she said to the Journal. “That’s what’s so hard about this. All he wanted to do was protect his daughter.”
Meadow, who had recently moved in with Walker, was at the charity event when her father died. Paul Sr said that his son had been planning to spend more time with her before his untimely death.
“I want to take a hiatus,” he remembered his son saying. “‘She’s just 15 and I don’t have much more time to be with her.’ Then boom, he got another movie. He would say, ‘I don’t know what to do.’”
Another important woman in Walker’s life was long-term girlfriend Jasmine Pilchard-Gosnell.
Her uncle told the Mail Online: “Paul is a really good guy and Jasmine is broken up by this… This is horrible news and unexpected. Her mother is with her and is comforting her.”
The pair met when she was 16 and Walker was 33.
Jim Torp, a friend and engineer with Reach Out Worldwide, was inside the charity event with Pilchard-Gosnell when he got the news of Paul’s death from his son at the crash scene.
”When I told her what happened she fell, she collapsed,” Torp told HollywoodLife.com.
Walker’s childhood best friend, known only as Nute, had rushed to the scene of the crash with a fire extinguisher when he heard what happened, TMZ reported.
According to TMZ, Nute tried to rescue Walker and Rodas from the vehicle, but the two were already dead, and authorities had to wrestle him away from the burning car.
Nute is reported to have punched a firefighter in the heat of the moment, and was taken into custody along with a few other friends. They were released soon after.
Autopsy results due
While the neighbourhood where “Fast & Furious” star Paul Walker died in a fiery crash is known to attract street racers, law enforcement officials do not believe the Porsche he and a friend were riding in had been racing another car.
Accident investigators “have received eyewitness statements that the car involved was travelling alone at a high rate of speed,” the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a written statement Monday. Officials have not named either person found in the car. The bodies were so badly burned by the fire that engulfed the wreck that dental records will be needed to confirm their identities.
Autopsy results for Fast & Furious actor Paul Walker could be released as early as Tuesday.