Actor Paul Walker, best known for his roles in the Fast and the Furious movies, died on Saturday (November 30) in a car crash in Southern California, his publicist said.

Walker, 40, who was in five of the six films about illegal street racing and heists, died as a passenger in a friend's car while attending a charity event, according to a message linked to his Twitter account.

"Sadly, I must confirm that Paul did pass away this afternoon in a car accident," Ame Van Iden, Walker's publicist, said in an email.

The Porsche in which Paul Walker, star of the popular cult Fast & Furious movie franchise, was travelling burst into flames after hitting a tree, according to eye witnesses. When deputies arrived, they found the vehicle engulfed in flames. Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene, the statement said.

Hours after the car crash, police investigators were still at the scene as local news helicopter crews filmed.

In the Fast and Furious pictures, Walker played Brian O'Conner, a law enforcement official. The first movie was released in 2001, and a seventh was in development at the time of his death, Universal, the studio behind the franchise, said in a statement.

Universal conveyed its condolences to Walker's family, saying, "All of us at Universal are heartbroken.

"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 and Furious films, and to countless fans."

Presented by Adam Justice

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