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Paul Walker fans gather for memorial at crash site

December 08, 2013|By Samantha Schaefer

By 10 a.m. Sunday, dozens of fans could be seen walking up Kelly Johnson Parkway in Valencia toward the site where “Fast and Furious” actor Paul Walker and his friend, Roger Rodas, were killed on Nov. 30.

Thousands of people were expected to participate in a memorial rally and car cruise in honor of Walker. Vehicles Walker drove in several installments of the “Fast and Furious” franchise were lined up on display in a church parking lot near the site.

Just up the hill, a thick wall of people stood along the curb to look at the site on Hercules Street where Walker and Rodas were killed. Hundreds of bouquets of flowers line the spot where Rodas’ red Porsche crashed into a tree and lamp post.

Los Angeles County sheriff's officials were monitoring traffic and directing lines of cars and pedestrians. Revving engines echoed throughout the neighborhood.

The unofficial memorial was slated to begin at noon, according to a Facebook posting of the event. Organizers have been using the social network to promote the gathering.

Pastor Bob Hudson, of North Park Community Church, located about 100 yards from the crash site, said in an earlier interview that the area has been a "zoo" all week. Church parking and restroom facilities will be available to visitors, Hudson told attendees on Facebook.

Hudson has also been in contact with the Sheriff's Department about providing officers a staging area and a room where they could rest, he said.

"It's not something we were looking for but it kind of fell in our laps," he said. "It's going to be cool and fun and yes, something's going to go wrong and we're going to have to fix it, but I enjoy opportunities like this.

"One reason we're doing this is because this is an opportunity to show God's love within our community," he said.

The Sheriff’s Department said anyone visiting the memorial should follow local and state laws, including parking regulations along the road and at local businesses. Many visitors have parked along a curve in the road, which poses a safety threat to motorists who may not be able to see cars or pedestrians while approaching the area, authorities said.

“Sheriff’s deputies understand many people are choosing to visit the site to assist in the grieving process. Yet it is important to take legal safety measures to help avoid injury to people in the area,” the department said in a statement.

Walker and Rodas were killed when a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT driven by Rodas, 38, crashed into a pole and a tree on Hercules Street near Kelly Johnson Parkway. Walker, 40, was a passenger in the vehicle.

The two had decided to go for a ride in the 600-horsepower car after attending a charity event sponsored by Reach Out Worldwide, Walker's nonprofit organization that provides assistance for disaster victims around the globe.

Walker died from a combination of injuries and burns suffered in the crash, according to coroner's officials. Rodas' death was the result of "multiple traumatic injuries."

Sheriff's officials said speed was a factor in the crash, but there was no evidence the pair were involved in a street race.

Investigators are still trying to determine exactly what caused the crash and whether there was a possible mechanical failure, causing Rodas to lose control.
The results of toxicology tests are not expected for six to eight weeks.

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samantha.schaefer@latimes.com

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