Hot Poppin' Culture News From New York City

Paul Walker Car Crash: Theories Mount as to How It Happened

The demolished Porsche Carrera GT in which Paul Walker died.

The demolished Porsche Carrera GT in which Paul Walker died.

Paul Walker’s horrendous death in a Porsche Carrera GT is spawning a slew of theories about how experienced driver Roger Rodas, who was at the wheel, lost control of the exotic $440,000 sports car. Even a curbside natural gas line has become suspect.

Police are investigating the crash and will ultimately piece together a report on how the accident happened.

So far, at least one theory has been ruled out. Rodas was not street racing with another car at the time of accident. But police believe he was speeding. The question is how fast?

The car has a powerful 610 horsepower V-10 engine that’s capable of propelling the rear-wheel drive car from 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, with a top speed in excess of 200 mph. With all that power, it would be easy to throw the car into a spin if Rodas hit the gas too hard.

The Accident Scene Yields Clues
(Click Photos to Enlarge)

The section of Hercules St. in Santa Clarita where the crash occurred is straight, but Rodas was coming out of a sweeping right hand curve. It’s known to local street racers as “Hercules Curve,” a place where hotrodders test their drifting skills.

A friend of the men, Jim Torp, who heard, but did not see the accident, said he could tell by the sound of the exhaust that Rodas was accelerating just before the crash.

The most likely scenario is that Rodas tried to slingshot out of the curve. He possibly hit the accelerator too hard, or too soon, causing the car to leap forward and start sliding as the rear wheels lost traction and began spinning.

One report said the car may have lost power-steering fluid, causing the crash. A loss of fluid would make the car harder to steer, but would not make it undriveable. (Update: Police say they could find no evidence of a massive fluid leak)

Rodas likely over-compensated trying to correct the spin, which sent the car whip-lashing in the other direction. It’s unknown how many times the car fishtailed before it went off the road.

But it’s pretty certain the Carrera was moving sideways when it jumped the curb and struck a light pole on the passenger’s side before coming to rest against a tree.

Speed estimates have varied, ranging from 40 to 45 mph to as high as 100 mph or more. More likely the car was traveling at the lower end of that range. A crash at 100 mph would have obliterated the car more extensively than it was. The car likely would have also taken out the tree.

Although damage to the car was extensive, suggesting a high-speed crash, the Carrera is reportedly designed to break apart like a race car to absorb the impact of a collision. The passenger compartment is protected by high-strength steel, according to Porsche specs.

The other mystery is why the car burned so furiously. It suggests that the gas tank ruptured, but some reports erroneously claimed that what’s been described as an above-ground natural gas line (see photos) was hit and fed the fire.

The pipe in question, however, prevents irrigation backflow and has nothing to do with natural gas.

Judging from a security camera, which captured an obscured view of the crash as it happened, the car burst into flames almost immediately, and Walker and Rodas likely died instantly.

Subscribe To TheImproper's Email Newsletters, Free!