Paul Walker, an actor best known for his role as a fast-driving cop opposite bad-guy-gone-good Vin Diesel in the Fast and Furious movie series died on Saturday in a car crash in Santa Clarita, California. Walker was 40 years old.
News of the fatal crash spread first online after celebrity news site TMZ broke the story. Initially, most other news outlets and Twitter accounts picked it up as a report.
Across Twitter, fans expressed disbelief. Most assumed it was a hoax.
It was another hour before TMZ and then ABC News got confirmation from the actor’s representatives.
TMZ’s web site was inundated with traffic and, for a brief period of time, actually went down. When it returned, it appeared with this sentence added to the original story: “A rep for the actor confirms Paul died today in the crash after leaving a charity event.”
According to the AP, Walker was a passenger in a friend’s Porsche, which crashed into a light pole and tree before bursting into flames. Dramatic images of the wreckage soon spread on Twitter.
Within a few hours “Fast and Furious” was trending on Twitter, followed later by “RIP Paul Walker.” As news of his death spread, thousands started following the actor’s Twitter account.
Throughout the evening Walker’s fans, especially those of the long-running Fast and Furiousfilms, and celebrities expressed shock and sadness.
According to IMDB, Walker starred in at least 40 TV shows and films, two of which were still in production, including the latest installment of Fast and Furious.
Universal, the studio responsible for the Fast and Furious films, sent out an official statement.