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UPDATE: Tributes for actor Paul Walker pour in

Posted: December 1, 2013 10:22 a.m.
Updated: December 1, 2013 11:30 a.m.
 

SANTA CLARITA - Tributes have been coming in from colleagues of actor Paul Walker who was killed Saturday in Valencia in a fiery crash of a sports car.

Meanwhile, Sheriff's deputy Peter Gomez said investigators are working to determine how fast the car was traveling and what caused it to go out of control, including whether the driver was distracted or something in the road prompted him to swerve.

Walker and his friend Roger Rodas had attended a fundraiser benefiting victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines. The event was held by Walker's Reach Out Worldwide, a charity he founded in 2010 to aid victims of natural disasters.

The fundraiser and toy drive took place at Rodas' custom car shop, Always Evolving. Attendees rushed to the nearby crash to try to put out the flames with fire extinguishers.

Bill Townsend, who attended the event, told AP Radio that Walker appeared very happy at the fundraiser.

"He was smiling at everybody, just tickled that all these people came out to support this charity," Townsend said. "He was doing what he loved. He was surrounded by friends, surrounded by cars."

The "Fast & Furious" star had been on break from shooting the seventh installment of the Universal Pictures franchise. Production began in September and while much of the film has been shot, it's incomplete.

Universal has not yet said what it plans to do with "Fast & Furious 7," which is currently slated for release in July.

His "Fast & Furious" co-star Vin Diesel posted a photograph of him and Walker arm-in-arm on Instagram with the message: "Brother I will miss you very much. I am absolutely speechless."

Walker rode the "Fast & Furious" franchise to stardom, starring in all but one of the six action blockbusters, beginning with the first film in 2001. The blond-haired, blue-eyed Los Angeles-native brought California surfer good-looks and an easy, warm charm to the popular street-racing series.

The son of a fashion model and a sewer contractor, Walker grew up in a working class, Mormon household in Glendale. 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, including small roles on "Who's the Boss" and "Charles in Charge," Walker made his feature film debut in the 1998 comedy "Meet the Deedles." Supporting roles in the films "Pleasantville," ''Varsity Blues" and "Flags of Our Fathers" 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 center stage with Diesel temporarily 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 "Fast & Furious" series, Walker continually drew praise from his co-stars and directors as a kind-hearted and eager collaborator.

"Your humble spirit was felt from the start," Ludacris, Walker's "Fast & Furious" co-star, said on Twitter. "Wherever you blessed your presence you always left a mark, we were like brothers."

"Fast & Furious" proved unusually enduring. Released in May, "Fast & Furious 6" was the most lucrative of them all, grossing more than $788 million worldwide. 

Walker is survived by his 15-year-old daughter.

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