Fans all over the world mourned the loss of Paul Walker when he passed away in 2013; the Fast and the Furious actor was just 40 years old when he was killed in a fiery vehicle collision. Now, years after the star’s death, his mother has boldly claimed that Walker could still have been alive today – that is, if a single text message hadn’t changed everything.
Walker was born in the Californian suburb of Glendale on September 12, 1973. And he started on his path to fame at a very young age, modeling and appearing in a TV commercial while still a small child. Then, as an adolescent, Walker started acting, taking on parts in television shows including The Young and the Restless and Who’s the Boss?
And the actor’s career went from strength to strength as an adult, too, as he managed to score his first feature film appearance in 1998’s Meet the Deedles. After that, Walker landed more substantive roles in She’s All That and Pleasantville. It wouldn’t be until 2001, though, that the star received his big break, after joining the cast of The Fast and the Furious.
In the film, Walker portrays undercover police officer Brian O’Connor, who forms a friendship with Vin Diesel’s character; the star would reprise the role of O’Connor in 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious. After the first two movies, however, the actor did not appear in the third film in the series and instead focused on other projects, such as Into the Blue and Flags of our Fathers. Still, he ultimately returned to the Fast and the Furious franchise for the fourth movie, Fast and Furious.
From then on, Walker appeared in the subsequent follow-ups, up to and including the seventh installment of the series, Furious 7. Before Furious 7 could be finished, though, Walker died in an accident. He had been working on two other projects at the time, and all three were released following his death.
And when the actor wasn’t in front of the camera, he used his celebrity to do philanthropic work. Moreover, that charitable streak is something that Walker mother’s, Cheryl, hopes he will be remembered by. “I’ve gotten letters from people all over the world who said [Walker] made a difference in their lives,” Cheryl told People in 2018. “That is such a blessing. He’s never forgotten.”
In fact, Walker’s deadly car crash occurred after a charity event in Santa Clarita, California. During the afternoon of November 30, 2013, he had attended a benefit organized by his foundation, Reach Out Worldwide, in support of the south-east Asian victims of Typhoon Haiyan. At some point, though, the actor decided to leave with his friend Roger Rodas.
The pair set off from the event at approximately 3:30 p.m.; they were in a Porsche Carrera GT, with 38-year-old Rodas behind the wheel. But before long, the vehicle struck two trees and a lamp post and exploded. As well as having worn tires, the car was traveling at between 80 mph and 93 mph in a 45 mph zone, and a combination of these two factors is thought to have been the cause of the accident.
Tragically, both Walker and Rodas passed away at the scene. Walker’s death was down to the force of the crash, along with the burns he received from the resulting inferno; Rodas, on the other hand, died instantly on impact. And in 2017 the actor’s mother recalled the moment that she found out her son had perished.
“I was in the kitchen, and I heard somebody come in. I looked, and it was a friend of mine. Somebody that Paul knew, too. [A] family friend,” the grieving mom said on The Dr. Oz Show. “And she looked like she just lost somebody, you know, she looked very upset.”
Cheryl added, “And then other people started arriving, including the two young men that Paul grew up with that were trying to get him out of the car.” Since that interview, though, Cheryl has now revealed that Walker almost didn’t go to the charity event. In fact, she believes that he could still be alive if he hadn’t received a text message that changed everything.
“[Walker and I] were having this good conversation, and he’d forgotten about an event he had,” Cheryl told People magazine in August 2018. “He got a text and said, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m supposed to be somewhere!’” However, his mom couldn’t have known that she wouldn’t see Walker alive again.
And on The Dr. Oz Show, Cheryl had revealed that she and Walker had been planning to spend the evening together on that fateful day. “I had a really nice conversation with Paul that morning,” she recalled. “He was in my home, he left to go to the event, and so I was expecting him back in the early afternoon [or] evening. And we had plans with his daughter, too, to decorate a Christmas tree that night.”
Walker’s daughter Meadow filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Porsche nearly two years after his passing and eventually reached a settlement that saw her receive $7.2 million. She is also continuing her father’s philanthropy, having established the Paul Walker Foundation to help conserve wild animals and the oceans. The organization aims to “serve as an enduring light of Paul’s unique spirit, far-reaching goals and spontaneous goodwill.”
And it’s clear that Walker’s family and fans are still dealing with his passing. In fact, after Cheryl revealed the new details about what happened on the day he died, people shared their sadness at losing the actor at such a young age. “He was by all accounts a great man, father and son. What a loss,” one commenter posted underneath a Daily Mail report. “He was so amazingly handsome, too. So sad. Rest well Paul.”
But Walker’s loved ones and admirers still have the chance to see him again in the documentary film I Am Paul Walker, which was released in August 2018. That project did not involve Meadow, however – perhaps because she is continuing to heal from losing her father.
In August 2018 Walker’s brother Cody talked to E! News about his niece, saying, “Paul was a lot of things to a lot of people. And it’s tough, because being the daughter that grew [up] with a dad she had to share [with] the world is really difficult. She’s dealing with it in her own way, as everybody has done.” Cody’s sibling Caleb added that the brothers are “not as close” with the teenager as they “would like to be.”
However, Cody continued, “We’re here for [Meadow] 100 percent. Whenever she’s ready, she has a family that loves her. Things take time. Everybody deals with things differently. I think that’s all that it is.” Meanwhile, Cheryl hopes that the documentary will allow fans to learn more about her son and the person he was outside of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.
Walker’s mom told People, “I think so many people think, ‘Oh, he was just a movie star who was killed in a car accident.’ But there was so much more to him. That was just a piece of who he was. He was an amazing man.”