Autopsy determines how Walker, Rodas died
POSTED: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 12:19pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 2:15pm
Los Angeles, CA (CNN) — Breaking news update 1:04 p.m.:
Autopsies have determined the official causes of death for Paul Walker and Roger Rodas. Rodas, the driver of the vehicle, died of multiple traumatic injuries; Walker, the passenger, died of the combined effects of traumatic and thermal injuries, the Los Angeles county coroner's office said Wednesday.
The deaths were ruled to be accidental. Toxicology results are pending, and could take several weeks.
[Previous story last published 11:06 a.m.]
The Los Angeles County coroner's office expects to release some information from the autopsies of actor Paul Walker and financial manager Roger Rodas on Wednesday, the coroner's office told CNN.
The autopsies were completed Tuesday, but investigators placed a "security hold" on the results. The coroner's office did not give a reason for the secrecy.
The coroner has not publicly identified the two people killed in the crash, but the victims are widely known to be Walker and Rodas.
Four days after the crash that killed the two men, key questions remain unanswered. Here are five of the biggest:
Did anything go wrong with the vehicle?
The Porsche Carrera GT the two men were in has three times the horsepower of the average car. It's powered by a V-10, 610-horsepower engine. At $450,000 new, it flies down the road and is notoriously difficult to handle.
A top driver has called the car "scary," Autoweek magazine reported.
Rodas was the sixth owner of this one, the magazine said.
Authorities say speed was a factor in the crash. Still, Walker and Rodas were experienced drivers, leading many to question whether something went wrong with the vehicle.
Jim Torp, a car enthusiast who was at the charity event where Rodas and Walker had been, said he thought he heard some kind of blast before the car slammed into a light pole. "What the first explosion was -- I don't know if their tire blew up, because it sounded like a tire blew on the car," Torp told CNN on Monday.
How fast were they going?
The area where the crash took place -- a wide business park road in Valencia, California -- has a reputation for being popular with drivers who like the thrill of going fast. In recent years, authorities have tried to stop the speeding in the area.
A 45-mph speed limit sign was on the light pole knocked down by the Porsche. A security camera video, which does not show the car itself, suggests that black smoke started to rise from the vehicle about a minute after the light pole and tree fell.
A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigation is focused on how fast the 2005 vehicle was going.
Skid marks on the asphalt near the crash site, which indicate a car had done doughnut spins, also are being examined.
Torp told CNN that he looked closely at the skid marks and believes they were left by a car with smaller tires.
Who was driving?
Rodas is believed to have been the driver. Witnesses who did not see the crash have said Rodas was behind the wheel, with Walker in the passenger seat.
The autopsies might determine whether that was the case.
Was anyone else in danger?
Amid the outpouring of grief for the deaths of Walker and Rodas, many people are also asking whether the ride had endangered pedestrians or other drivers. It took place at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Online stories about the crash are filled with comments from readers saying it's fortunate that no one else was killed or injured.
In 2001, when the first "Fast & Furious" movie was released, Walker talked about the dangers of drag racing. "Nothing would be worse than a 120-mile-an-hour blowout, on a surface street, you know, with pedestrians lining up and down. You know, it's just common sense, it's just not worth the risk factor," he said.
Authorities have ruled out drag racing in this accident, and those who knew Walker and Rodas say they were not the sort of people who would risk their lives and others' in a race.
What's the future of 'Fast & Furious'?
The seventh installment of the wildly successful franchise was already in production. Walker had already shot scenes for the film.
The cast and crew were on a Thanksgiving break, and were scheduled to return to Atlanta on Sunday to resume filming.
Now, it's unclear how the movie will proceed. Will the character's death be written in? When actor Oliver Reed died in the middle of the production of "Gladiator," the rest of his scenes included a digitally produced image of his face on another actor's body, Tom O'Neil, editor of the show business website Goldderby.com, told CNN.
The Hollywood Reporter said the movie's production is delayed, but it won't be scrapped.
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