Paul Walker has died at the age of 40, his rep confirms to Us Weekly. The actor -- best known for his work in the Fast and the Furious franchise -- got into a single-car accident and explosion in Southern California and died Saturday afternoon.
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station confirms in a statement to Us Weekly that there were two fatalities in a traffic collision at approximately 3:30 p.m. Saturday. When deputies arrived, the vehicle was engulfed in flames. The Los Angeles Country Fire Department estinguished the flames, and two victims were prononced dead at the scene. The Coroner's Office is currently determining the identities of the victims, and the collision is still under investigation. A source also confirms to Us that Walker was the passenger at the time, and was not the one driving.
"It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide," a statement on his official Facebook page reads. "He was a passenger in a friend's car, in which both lost their lives. We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news. Thank you for keeping his family and friends in your prayers during this very difficult time. We will do our best to keep you apprised on where to send condolences. - #TeamPW."
A native of Glendale, Calif., Walker first broke out in Hollywood in the late 90s films Pleasantville and Varsity Blues. He then went on to appear in She's All That, The Skulls, and first joined the Fast and the Furious franchise in 2001. The actor reprised his role as Brian O'Conner in Fast & Furious 6 in 2013. Fast & Furious 7 was announced for a 2014 debut.
While promoting his latest film Hours earlier this month, Walker revealed that his 15-year-old daughter, Meadow, recently moved to live with him last year after living with her mother in Hawaii. Walker welcomed Meadow with then-girlfriend Rebecca in November 1998.
The son of a fashion model and a sewer contractor, Walker grew up in a working class, Mormon Los Angeles household. The oldest of five siblings, Walker's mother began taking him to auditions as a toddler. He was a child model beginning at the age of 2.
Walker has said the early induction to show business wasn't to start him on a career path, but as a way to help provide for the family.
After a string of TV roles as a child in the '80s, Walker made his feature film debut in the 1998 comedy Meet the Deedles. Supporting roles in the films Pleasantville, Varsity Blues and She's All That followed.
His performance in the 2000 thriller The Skulls caught the eye of producer Neal H. Moritz, who cast him in The Fast and the Furious as undercover police officer Brian O'Conner. Adapted from a Vibe magazine article about underground street races, the film became an unexpected hit.
In the sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Walker moved to centre stage with his co-star Vin Diesel momentarily dropping out. Walker, a self-described "gearhead," kept his character's sports car from the film.
Walker starred in other films, including the crime thriller Running Scared, the Antarctic adventure Eight Below and the heist film Takers. Though his stardom didn't make as much of an impact outside the The Fast and the Furious series, Walker continually drew praise from his co-stars and directors as a kind-hearted and eager collaborator.
And The Fast and The Furious proved unusually enduring. Released in May, The Fast and Furious 6 was the most lucrative of them all, grossing more than $788 million worldwide. The seventh installment began shooting in September, with a release planned for July.
"Your humble spirit was felt from the start," said Ludacris, Walker's The Fast and the Furious co-star, on Twitter. "Wherever you blessed your presence you always left a mark, we were like brothers."
Walker is survived by his 15-year-old daughter.