Losing a parent is one of the hardest things a person ever has to go through. When their death was a preventable accident, and they were in the public eye, it’s even worse. This is what happened to young Meadow Walker, daughter of The Fast and the Furious star Paul Walker. However, she was determined that her father would never be forgotten.
Meadow was born in 1998, just as her father’s film career was starting to take off. Walker and her mother, Rebecca Soteros, split up not long after their child was born. But, despite this, they agreed to co-parent her.
Later, Walker would confess that at the time Meadow was born, he didn’t feel emotionally mature enough to settle down. Though he provided for his daughter and his ex, he was only 25 back then. He also admitted that he was pretty much a party animal, too.
But, even though Meadow didn’t live with him, he doted on her. “She’s been going on camping trips with me recently,” Walker told CosmoGirl! in 2003. “It’s important to me that she experiences those things and grows while doing all that.” In fact, he would frequently share with her his passions for the ocean, animals and nature.
At the end of that interview, though, Walker gave a final, chilling quote. He said, “I would imagine that even when I’m 40 and looking at her, I’ll still be going, ‘I’m a dad!’” Tragically, those heartfelt words would take on a saddening, ironic twist a decade later.
Meanwhile, as she grew older Meadow decided that she would like to live with her father for a bit. So although she and her mother had started living in Hawaii, the young teenager headed to California to spend some time with her father. It was time for some daddy-daughter bonding.
Just mere days before he died in 2013, 40-year-old Walker told WENN about how happy he was with the arrangement. “She’s been with her mom her whole life and she wants a relationship with her pops. It’s working out really well right now,” he explained.
But, tragically, that happiness was to be short-lived. On the final day of November 2013, Walker and his friend Roger Rodas stepped into a Porsche Carrera GT to travel to a charity event. And they would never step out of it; the car swerved off the road, hit a lamppost and burst into flames.
News of the terrible accident spread fast around Hollywood. Actors who had worked with Walker were horrified to hear of his death. Hundreds of tributes were posted on Twitter, with quite a few messages and prayers directed at Meadow as well.
Certainly, a great deal had been lost in the crash. After all, not only were two families now bereft, but many charities had lost one of their most generous supporters. Walker had been traveling to an event for his own non-profit group, Reach Out WorldWide, when the crash had happened, and its team were also left devastated.
But, as the funeral was held and fans mourned the loss of a movie star, Walker’s friends and family starting planning how to keep his philanthropic spirit alive. They requested, firstly, that attendees of his funeral make a donation to Reach Out WorldWide instead of bringing flowers. More was to come, though.
But while plans were being made for charities, plans for Meadow had to be made as well. To that end, she briefly became the center of a custody battle between her grandmother, Cheryl Walker, and her mother. Eventually, her mother was awarded full custody in May 2014.
What’s more, there were other, possibly even worse legal matters to deal with. Paul Walker’s father, Meadow’s grandfather, ended up filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the estate of Roger Rodas. Other parties affected by the incident sued Porsche. Indeed, it was a mess that would take years to solve.
It had been an absolutely horrible couple of years for Meadow. But she was growing up, and she was determined to honor her father in any way that she could. So on September 12, 2015, Walker’s birthday, she launched The Paul Walker Foundation.
“Reflecting on my father, I found myself reflecting on his passions,” she wrote on Instagram. “His passion for the ocean, his passion for rescuing animals, his passion for helping people and his passion for spontaneous goodwill.” The foundation would be partnered with the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.
But Meadow hadn’t taken her journey alone: her family and her father’s close friends, like his Fast & Furious co-star Vin Diesel, had been constantly at her side. Now, though, she was the public face of a charity that bore her father’s name. That’s a huge responsibility for anyone, let alone a teenager.
Still, Meadow, now 18, bore that responsibility incredibly well. She attended important events in her father’s stead, such as presenting Paul Walker Ocean Leadership Awards to those who had made a difference in protecting the world’s oceans.
This was all the more impressive seeing as she was still, essentially, being forced to relive her father’s death. She too filed a lawsuit against Porsche in September 2015. It alleged that the lack of safety features in the Porsche Carrera GT were what caused the tragedy to play out like it did.
She didn’t get the response she was hoping for. In November 2015 Porsche made the statement that Paul Walker’s death was his “own comparative fault” and that the company were not to blame. This must have been a crushing blow, but in July 2016 a judge ruled that Porsche still had a case to answer.
Meanwhile, what Meadow will do with her life as she grows to adulthood remains uncertain. Some people have speculated that she may try and make it as a model. However, no matter what happens, there can be no doubt that her father would be very, very proud of her.