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Paul Walker cause of death: An unfortunate case of crash and burn

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It wasn't an unexpected coroner's report, the one revealing Paul Walker's cause of death after the car in which he and a friend were in crashed Saturday just seconds after leaving a charity event for victims of Typhoon Haiyan held by Walker's own organization Reach Out Worldwide. And yet the official confirmation seemed to only accentuate the shocking news of the young "Fast and Furious" star's sudden death. The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office released its preliminary autopsy findings Wednesday, corroborating what most already suspected -- Paul Walker had died in the accident, a literal case of crash and burn.

Of course, the Coroner's Office's official statement wasn't so blunt, wording Walker's cause of death as the result of the "combined effects of traumatic and thermal injuries" suffered during the car crash and immediately following the accident. As Vanity Fair reported (via Yahoo Shine) Dec. 4, the autopsy itself was conducted Tuesday.

The autopsy report also confirmed that Paul Walker had been a passenger in the vehicle, a Porsche Carrera GT, and that the car was driven by his friend and business partner, Roger Rodas. The Coroner's Office told ABC News (via Yahoo News) that the autopsies on the two men were done by different doctors. It was confirmed that Rodas, 38, died on impact. Walker died "maybe" within seconds of the impact but likely as a combined result of the car crash and the subsequent fire.

Both deaths were ruled accidental.

It is as yet still unclear as to what actually occurred in the intervening seconds after Rodas and Walker left the gathering that ended in an impact with a telephone pole sporting a 45 miles-per-hour speed sign. Sources close to the pair maintain that mechanical failure must have been a factor in causing the accident.

Investigators, though, do know that the vehicle was doing far more than the posted speed. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's detective Jeff Maag told People magazine that speed was indeed a factor and that the Porsche "was doing well over 45 [mph] – [it's] fair to say at least twice that."

Paul Walker was set to star in "Fast and Furious 7," which was already in production in Atlanta. Universal Pictures announced Wednesday that the movie was being placed on hiatus for an undefined length of time.

In a statement covered by the Los Angeles Times, the studio expressed support for Walker's family and friends and felt it was their "responsibility to shut down production on Fast & Furious 7 for a period of time so we can assess all options available to move forward with the franchise." The statement went on to pledge updates for "Fast And Furious" fans, ending with: "Until then, we know they [the fans] join us in mourning the passing of our dear friend Paul Walker."

Toxicology reports are expected in six to eight weeks with an amended and final autopsy report to follow shortly thereafter.

The investigation into the cause of the car crash is expected to take weeks as well.


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