US actor Paul Walker, who starred in the “Fast & Furious” series of action films, has been killed in a car crash in California.
Walker, 40, was a passenger in a Porsche sports car driven by a friend - who also died - when it crashed north of Los Angeles. He was said to be attending a charity event at the time.
He starred in all but one of the films in the Fast & Furious franchise, the sixth of which opened in May.
Walker also starred in the suspense drama “Hours”, a movie that is set for release this month.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's department said the crash happened in the community of Valencia.
It said deputies found a car engulfed in flames when they responded to a report of a collision. Two people found in the car were pronounced dead at the scene.
“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,” the statement on the actor's Facebook page said.
“He was a passenger in a friend's car, in which both lost their lives. We... are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news.”
Universal Pictures also issued a statement, saying studio staff were “heartbroken” by Walker's death.
“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 & Furious films, and to countless fans.
“We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Paul's family.”
Walker played undercover agent Brian O'Conner in the Fast & Furious movies. The first film of the franchise was released in 2001 and the seventh is in development. Walker was one of the leading protagonists, along with Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez. His career began in 1986 with the horro film “Monster in the Closet”, and he gained recognition after his role in “Varsity Blues”. Apart from the F&F franchise, he also did films like “Into the Blue”, “Running Scared” and “Eight Below”, and was slated to play Agent 47 in reboot of the film adaptation of the popular video game “Hitman”.
Much like his role in the F&F franchise, he was an avid car enthusiast, competing in racing series, and owned the Nissan Skyline GT-R that was featured in “2 Fast 2 Furious”.
His long-time co-star from the Fast & Furious franchise, Vin Diesel said in a post on Instagram: “Brother I will miss you very much. I am absolutely speechless. Heaven has gained a new Angel. Rest in Peace.”