Paul Walker's Death: Cause of Accident Won't Be Known for 90 Days

3:40 PM PST 12/11/2013 by Paul Bond
Associated Press

"We're creating a factual diagram -– mapping the scene," a detective tells THR. "To the extent that we can, we need to rule out mechanical failure. But the car is a mess."

It could be another 90 days before authorities determine why a Porsche Carrera GT careened out of control and plowed into three trees and a light pole on Nov. 30, killing Fast and Furious actor Paul Walker and his friend Roger Rodas, a detective told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday.

Since the accident, reports have surfaced suggesting that the sports car, driven by Rodas with Walker in the passenger seat, was speeding at 90 miles per hour just ahead of a curve on a street in a business section of Santa Clarita, about 30 miles north of Los Angeles. The speed of the vehicle, though, is only speculation on the part of some reporters, Detective Jeff Maag told THR on Wednesday.

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Maag said much more work needs to be done before many facts are known, and all that he is comfortable saying now about speed is that the car was traveling at least 45 miles per hour just prior to the fiery accident.

Insiders say some of the investigation was delayed because authorities didn’t want to hamper plans for a makeshift memorial, which took place Sunday and drew as many as 8,000 fans of the deceased actor as well as a parade of high-performance vehicles, including Lamborghinis, Ferraris and some 50-year-old classics of various models. Above, a couple of airplanes flew with banners containing a message signed by Paris Hilton: “R.I.P. God be with Fast & Furious star Paul Walker…Our Hearts go out to his friends and family.”

The memorial site contained thousands of items left by fans and they weren’t hauled away until Tuesday. Die-cast cars, stuffed animals, candles, crosses, flowers, a Christmas tree and more were trashed, while items containing handwritten notes from fans were kept for Walker’s family, according to Santa Clarita communications manager Gail Ortiz.

Maag said parts of the car had been collected in the street and at a nearby parking lot, but that he needs more time at the crash site to check the skid marks, lane widths and other evidence. Much of the work involving the car itself will be handled by the California Highway Patrol, but Maag did not want to disclose the timing or location of that part of the investigation.

Maag said both passengers were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the collision and remained in the car after it burst into flames. The fire was confined to the car but also scorched at least one tree.

“We’re creating a factual diagram -- mapping the scene,” he said. “To the extent that we can, we need to rule out mechanical failure. But the car is a mess.”

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The L.A. County Coroner confirmed last week the identities of Walker and Rodas, whose bodies were burned to the extent that dental records were needed. Their deaths were ruled “accidents,” but toxicology results, which would show if drugs or alcohol were in either body, are still about seven weeks away.

As for Sunday’s memorial, Ortiz said that about 100 law enforcement officers patrolled the area and shut down several streets, but that costs associated with the event had not yet been calculated.

The memorial went smoothly, except for one arrest -- of a man from Arizona who, sheriff’s deputies say, was illegally carrying a pistol -- plus several dozen cars received parking tickets and some were towed. Also, a fight involving about five men broke out in a nearby Walmart parking lot, but no arrests were made.

Since the crash, some videos allegedly of its aftermath have hit the Internet, two of which can be seen here.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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