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Paul Walker and Roger Rodas: Pugilistic stance not from bracing for crash impact

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The final autopsy report from the Los Angeles County coroner's office on the deaths of Paul Walker and Roger Rodas was released on Friday, Jan. 3, 2013. This report has answered several questions that have been the subject of speculation since the tragic accident in Nov. TMZ shared the details of the report, but one of the details described by TMZ and other news sources is not exactly true.

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TMZ says "Walker's body was laying supine in the passenger seat in a pugilistic stance --that's a defensive position, as if he were bracing himself for impact." While the coroner's report does state that Paul Walker and Roger Rodas were both in a pugilistic stance, it was not from bracing themselves for the impact.

A pugilistic stance or pugilistic attitude is typically seen in severely burned bodies. It is characterized by flexion of elbows, knees, hip, neck and clenching of hand into a fist. The high temperatures of fire causes muscles to stiffen and shorten. A pugilistic stance can happen even if the person was dead before being burned, unless rigor mortis sets in.

The coroner's report states that Roger Rodas was driving at "approximately 100+ mph" and for unknown reasons lost control of the vehicle and partially spun around. The vehicle then struck a curb, and the driver's side struck a tree and then a light-post. The force of those impacts caused the vehicle to spin 180 degrees and continue in an easterly direction before the passenger side struck another tree. The vehicle then bursted into flames.

SEE the full report from the Los Angeles County coroners office here.

Both men tested negative for drugs and alcohol. Paul Walker's cause of death was the combined effects of traumatic and thermal injuries. Roger Rodas' cause of death was multiple traumatic injuries.

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