Roger Rodas named as driver of red Porsche GT involved in fatal crash
The former race car drive – and Paul’s close pal and financial adviser – has been named as the driver involved in Saturday’s fatal accident
So Who is Roger Rodas?
He owned a car customisation business
Rodas was the co-owner of a car customisation business in Santa Clarita, California.
Fast & Furious star Walker was named also named as a co-owner of the Always Evolving shop which describes itself as “The source for all of your automotive passions.”
He raced with Walker
Roads and Walker had raced each other in the Pirelli World Challenge Series. According to Auto Week, they raced at a number of other racing events including 25 Hours of Thunderhill.
It’s claimed Walker’s busy schedule meant he was unable to be involved as much as he would have liked.
He did a lot of charity work
They are big charity workers and were on their way to an event for Walker’s founded fundraiser Reach Out Worldwide.
The charity was part of an aid response team to help those connected to the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Rodas also did charity work for The Asomugha Foundation.
Was a petrol head but kept it green
He also owned a recycling plant in Central America and is also active in “waste to energy power plants and wind farms”.
Walker previously said of their charitable efforts: “Instead of just writing a cheque, we’re seeing how much more bang for the buck we can get by giving of ourselves and spending every dollar on the cause. It gives you a lot of hope.”
He was Walker’s financial adviser
It’s reported Rodas was “one of America’s top wealth management advisors” and apparently boasted an impressive list of clients in his portfolio.
His relationship with Walker was not just on a personal level but the pair turned professional as Rodas became Walker’s financial advisor, according to a Merrill Lynch profile.
The same piece writes how Rodas had worked at Merrill Lynch/Bank of America for 20 years and has been named on a list of America’s Top 1000 Financial Advisers in 2010, 2011, 2012.
His best competitive race was in Walker’s Mustang
He’s had eight competitive races. In April, he crashed into a wall at a Pirelli World Challenge practice session.
So he could finish the race, Walker loaned his Ford Mustang Boss 302S and achieved his best position with a second place finish in the Pirelli Porsche Driver’s Cup Series championship in 2012.
His World Challenge profile states he was a native of El Salvador but lived in California.
Paul Walker, the much-loved star who for 12 years headlined the Fast and Furious franchise, has died in a car crash aged 40.
The actor was travelling as a passenger in a new Porsche when his friend who was driving – who has been described as an “experienced driver” – lost control of the vehicle and collided with a street light, and then a tree.
The LA County Sheriff’s department has confirmed that two people died in a collision in Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles, at 3:30pm on Saturday, but Walker’s death was confirmed by his representatives on his official Facebook page, and then by his publicist, Ame Van Iden.
“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 organisation Reach Out Worldwide,” reads the Facebook update.
“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.”
The Reach Out Worldwide event was a car show aimed at generating aid for the Philippines typhoon relief effort. It appears Walker, who was an investor in a nearby automobile shop called Always Evolving, took the Porsche GT, which was on show at Reach Out Worldwide, for a drive.
Photos released from the crash scene show both street light and tree collapsed, alongside a completely wrecked vehicle, which was evidently engulfed in flames following the accident. Antonio Holmes, a friend of Walker and of the driver, who he called “Roger”, was nearby and ran to the crash site in a futile attempt to try and extinquish the blaze.
“We all ran around and jumped in cars and grabbed fire extinguishers and immediately went to the vehicle. It was engulfed in flames. There was nothing. They were trapped. Employees, friends of the shop. We tried. We tried. We went through fire extinguishers,” he told the Santa Clarita Signal.
“Him and his buddy, his brother in arms at heart just decided to joyride, take a spin. Something we all do. We’re all car enthusiasts … We’re all here driving, enjoying each other, and God must’ve needed help.”
Universal Pictures, the studio behind the Fast and Furious franchise, released a statement on Saturday evening. “All of us at Universal are heartbroken,” it read. “Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the Fast and Furious films, and to countless fans.”
The sentiment was echoed by Walker’s Fast and Furious co-star Vin Diesel, who posted a photo of the pair on his Instagram account with the caption: “Brother I will miss you very much. I am absolutely speechless. Heaven has gained a new Angel. Rest in Peace.”
Other colleagues took to Twitter to express their grief. “All my strength, love & faith to the Walker family during this heartbreaking time. We find our strength.. in his light. Love you brother,” wrote Dwayne Johnson on his @TheRock account. Johnson had joined the cast of Fast and Furious for its two most recent instalments, and was due to return for the seventh, which had just begun filming.
Tyrese Gibson, who co-starred in the films, posted: “My heart is hurting so bad. No one can make me believe this is real.” Director Roland Emmerich wrote that he was “extremely saddened”, while James Wan posted “I am so beyond heartbroken right now. I can’t process anything.”
The son of a model and a sewer contractor, he grew up in Los Angeles, in a working class Mormon household. Child modelling assignments helped keep the family afloat financially (he was the eldest of five) and launched a career that started on TV then moved to the big screen with 1998 comedy Meet the Deedles, then supporting roles in Pleasantville, Varsity Blues and She’s All That.
It was his turn in 2000 thriller The Skulls which brought him to the attention of the Fast and Furious producer. Notable other roles included the lead in genial huskies drama Eight Below, and a part in Clint Eastwood’s Iwo Jima epic The Flags of our Fathers. The day before his death, he posted an update to Twitter expressing his excitement about the upcoming seventh instalment: “The boys are back. Will you be ready? – #TeamPW #FastFridays”
The actor is survived by a 15-year-old daughter, Meadow.