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Investigators blame speed in fatal Paul Walker crash

Wed, 26 Mar 2014

When the tragic news first came in that actor Paul Walker had been killed in a car crash, family, friends and fans were left searching for answers. They now have at least one key question answered, with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department blaming "unsafe speed" for the fatal accident.

According to a statement released by the LACSD, "Investigators determined the cause of the fatal solo-vehicle collision was unsafe speed for the roadway conditions". The investigation into the November, 2013 crash determined that Walker's 2005 Porsche Carrera GT had been driven by his business partner and racer, Roger Rodas, at speeds between 80 and 93 miles per hour – less than the 100+ mph initially suspected, but still far too fast for the road on which they were traveling, which carried a posted limit of 45 mph.

In the investigation into the death of the Fast & Furious star and his friend, some people were quick to finger the Porsche in which they were riding as the culprit. The Carrera GT does, after all, have the reputation of being a notoriously difficult car to control. But after an exhaustive investigation, law enforcement officials in California have vindicated the car and dismissed any mechanical fault as the cause of the accident.

Officials have also dismissed the possibility that Rodas and Walker were street-raced against another vehicle, citing a lack of evidence to support that theory. They do, however, note that "the tires on the car were more than nine years old" and that the vehicle was fitted with an aftermarket exhaust system "which would have increased the engine's horsepower." See the police statement from the LA County Sheriff's Department below, along with a press release from Porsche, which welcomes the findings.

Cause of Collision that claimed the lives of Paul Walker & Roger Rodas

Los Angeles County Sheriff's traffic collision experts have determined the speed of the vehicle driven by Roger Rodas, that claimed his life and the life of Paul Walker, was between 80 and 93 Miles Per Hour (MPH) at the time the car impacted a power pole and several trees.

"Investigators determined the cause of the fatal solo-vehicle collision was unsafe speed for the roadway conditions," said Commander Mike Parker, North (County) Patrol Division, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

An in-depth examination was conducted with the assistance of expert investigators from the California Highway Patrol - Multi-disciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT).

MAIT investigators conducted a mechanical inspection of the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT's powertrain and exhaust, throttle and fuel system, electrical system, steering and suspension, brake system, tires and wheels, and airbag control modules. The inspection also focused on the Porsche's history, safety recalls, and repair records.

The mechanical examination revealed no pre-existing conditions that would have caused this collision. "During the examination, it was determined that an aftermarket exhaust system had been installed which would have increased the engine's horsepower," said Commander Parker. The tires on the car were more than nine years old.

There is evidence that seatbelts were worn by both Mr. Rodas and Walker and that the airbags deployed for both the driver and passenger. "Toxicology tests on both men revealed that neither had used any alcohol or drugs," said Commander Parker.

The traffic collision happened at about 3:26PM on Saturday, November 30, 2013, at Hercules St. at Kelly Johnson Pkwy, which is very near the business park at the 28300 block of Rye Canyon Loop, Valencia, in the city of Santa Clarita. The posted speed limit in the area of the collision is 45 MPH.

No eyewitness contacted the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to say there was a second vehicle and there is no evidence to indicate there was a second car involved in the collision. Investigators sought out eyewitnesses to what happened just prior to the collision, as well as to the collision itself. Security videos and photos from local businesses along with other evidence helped skilled investigators to determine the cause of the collision and that no speed contest was taking place.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's traffic investigators documented the scene extensively after the collision. This included writing a traffic report, photographing the scene, determining the collision's area of impact and point of rest, measuring skid marks and location of debris, gathering physical evidence such as debris and the on-board car computer data, and examining the car itself to look for such evidence such as paint transfer to help determine whether or not it had impacted other objects or cars.

LA Sheriff's investigators also consulted with experts from the Porsche and Michelin Corporations as part of the investigation.

The opinion of the Los Angeles County Coroner - Medical Examiner is that Mr. Rodas "died of multiple traumatic injuries. The manner of death is accident." The opinion of the Los Angeles County Coroner - Medical Examiner is that the cause of death of Mr. Walker is "combined effects of traumatic and thermal injuries. The manner of death is accident."

Redacted copies of the LASD and CHP traffic collision investigation reports are provided via the hyperlink at the bottom of this message.

The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station polices the City of Santa Clarita and the unincorporated communities of a portion of the Angeles National Forest, as well as Bouquet Canyon, Canyon County, Castaic, Gorman, Hasley Canyon, Newhall, Neenach, Sand Canyon, Santa Clarita, Saugus, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Sleepy Valley, Southern Oaks, Stevenson Ranch, Sunset Point, Tesoro del Valle, Valencia, Val Verde, West Hills and West Ranch:


Porsche Acknowledges Findings of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the California Highway Patrol

Atlanta. We appreciate the meticulous analysis by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the California Highway Patrol. It is a sad day for us whenever anyone is injured in one of our cars, and this was a particularly tragic event. At the same time, the results of the investigation show that, according to all the available evidence, this crash was caused by dangerous driving at speeds much too high for the road in question. There is also evidence that this particular vehicle had been altered from its original design state and had not been maintained properly. However, there is no evidence of any mechanical malfunction. We stand by our Carrera GT and by the investigation and conclusions of the responsible authorities.

About Porsche Cars North America

Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA), based in Atlanta, Ga. is the exclusive U.S. importer of Porsche sports cars, including the Macan and Cayenne SUVs and the Panamera sports sedan. Established in 1984, it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Porsche AG, which is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, and employs approximately 270 people who provide parts, service, marketing and training for 189 dealers. They, in turn, work to provide Porsche customers with a best-in-class experience that is in keeping with the brand's 66-year history and leadership in the advancement of vehicle performance, safety, and efficiency.

At the core of this success is Porsche's proud racing heritage that boasts some 30,000 motorsport wins to date.

By Noah Joseph

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