Paul Walker: Coroner Establishes Cause of Death

10:04 AM PST 12/04/2013 by Paul Bond
Associated Press

The office found the driver, Roger Rodas, died of "multiple traumatic injuries," while the actor died of "combined effects of traumatic and thermal injuries."

Officials confirmed Wednesday that Paul Walker and a business partner, Roger Rodas, died in a fiery crash in Valencia, Calif., on Saturday.

It had been presumed that the Fast & Furious actor and Rodas were in a Porsche Carrera GT when it burst into flames after hitting either a tree or a light pole, though the bodies were burned beyond recognition and dental records were needed to make positive identifications.

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Early Wednesday, the L.A. County Coroner told The Hollywood Reporter that autopsy examinations showed that Rodas was driving the sports car at the time of the accident and Walker was a passenger.

The coroner's office determined that the driver died of "multiple traumatic injuries" and Walker died of "combined effects of traumatic and thermal injuries" in the single-car accident.

"Both deaths have been ruled by the coroner to be accidents," read a statement from the coroner's office on Wednesday. Walker was 40 and Rodas was 38 when they died on Nov. 30, and the accident was described as: "Auto versus fixed object."

Toxicology results, which would show if any drugs or alcohol were involved, are still up to eight weeks away, the coroner's office said Wednesday.

Walker and Rodas, the CEO of the actor's Always Evolving automotive company, were attending a charity event in Valencia when, according to a witness, the two took the Porsche for a drive to determine why it had not been running properly.

Late Tuesday, Detective Jeff Maag of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department told THR that perhaps several more days are needed before the cause of the crash can be determined.

"We're looking at probably, and hopefully, sometime next week. I'm waiting for the crowds to clear so I can do a little bit more investigation at the scene," he said, adding that on Tuesday there were several dozen people visiting the scene of Saturday's accident. "The fans should be allowed to mourn how they want to mourn. I think that's fair, and they'll probably be done next week."

On Wednesday afternoon, dozens of fans had also flocked to the site. A makeshift memorial contained hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of items left by fans of the deceased actor, including Hot Wheels and other diecast cars, bottles of Corona beer, Teddy bears, Christian symbols, auto racing-themed t-shirts and hats, candles and flowers.

Maag said that he is still gathering evidence that should point to how fast the Porsche was moving when it struck the tree or light pole and what made the driver lose control of the car. Retrieval of the vehicle's "black box" should help, assuming one exists.

"Almost all cars have them, but we're not sure if it's going to be in this particular Porsche or not," said Maag.

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The car is at a sheriff's department impound yard away from public view. "I have to dig through it. We're going to be doing that this week, and see if we can remove the recording device that may be in the car, but we're not sure if it's even in there," Maag said.

Maag also said he has been collecting surveillance video from the area.

"I need to clean up some of the theories that are floating around -- mechanical problems, blown tires, that type of thing. I don't suspect those things, but they are things I need to deal with before I release anything."

Since the accident, a couple of videos have emerged allegedly showing the car on fire. One from TMZ appears to show the car exploding. Another on YouTube shows a car in flames and is advertised as: "Real video .. Paul Walker died in fatal car accident." The videos are below.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com

 

 
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