Man accused of stealing roof panel from wrecked Porsche in which Paul Walker died

Detectives have arrested a man they accuse of stealing a part from the wrecked Porsche in which actor Paul Walker, best known for his work in the “Fast & Furious” series, died Saturday. As the Associated Press reports, authorities believe Jameson Witty, 18, and an accomplice followed the tow truck pulling the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT from the scene of the accident.

One of them got out of their car and removed a part from the Porsche when the truck had stopped at an intersection, witnesses told investigators. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, detectives found a red T-top roof panel from a Porsche while executing a search warrant at a residence.

The second suspect is outside of California and is arranging to surrender, according to a statement from the department. His name has not been released, and charges against the pair have not been announced yet.

Walker died when his friend Roger Rodas, who was driving the Porsche, lost control of the car, which careened into a pole and a tree and then burst into flames. According to an autopsy report, Walker died from a combination of the impact and his burns, while Rodas was dead before the fire started.

Investigators have not yet determined why Rodas lost control of the vehicle, but have said that speed might have been a factor in the crash.

Universal Pictures has indefinitely halted production of the seventh installment in the “Fast & Furious” series, of which Walker and the rest of the cast and crew had filmed only a part. The film had been scheduled for release in July.

For James Hibberd, even if the film is completed and released, it will no longer be enjoyable to watch after Walker’s death:

The studio is wisely trying to figure out what is the best and most sensitive course to take. Roughly half of the film has apparently been shot. Meanwhile investigators are trying to determine if Walker’s friend at the wheel, Roger Rodas, may have been driving too fast. Another area of speculation is whether the accident might have been caused by something as mundane as a mechanical problem, such as a blown tire — one of those real-life potentially fatal issues that plague real-life cars.

Regardless of exactly how the accident happened, here’s the question: Can you watch Fast & Furious racing, the core action in this six-films-and-counting franchise, and still enjoy it the same way as before — as a deliriously goofy thrill ride? Can you watch Walker’s now-shattered friends and co-stars racing cars, and especially Walker himself, without being haunted by thoughts of his final moments and his friends’ grief? In other words: Does the way an artist died influence how you process his art? Especially when it’s an actor who made car racing fantasies and he dies in a fiery crash? Or is the manner of Walker’s demise irrelevant?

Some will easily brush all this off. Millions watch real-life auto racing, which sometimes claims the lives of its drivers, and still enjoy the sport just as much as before. And there were plenty of people on Twitter outraging Walker’s fans by caustically joking about his death after the news broke. So sure, many will watch the Fast crew get in their cars, gun their engines, floor the pedal and feel just … fine.

I won’t, though. And I suspect there’s a few others won’t find the same thrill in the films again either. Is that normal, or over-sensitive? It’s not like the films were misguided to embrace a high-speed vehicular fantasy, but it’s like being at a party where there’s a tragic accident — the party wasn’t wrong, yet feels over just the same; the fun has been ripped out of it.

Entertainment Weekly

Walker’s many admirers include those who enjoyed the “Fast & Furious” films and those who followed his earlier work in productions such as “The Skulls” and “Varsity Blues.” They have felt his loss keenly this week, writes Ann Friedman:

When my friend Kenesha texted me on Saturday — “wait is paul walker dead?!” — I had to Google his name. I soon learned I was alone in my confusion. Over the course of the next two days, nearly every heterosexual woman in my life mentioned the death of the Fast and the Furious actor. They were low-level distraught, as if they’d lost a distant cousin or ex-boyfriend from way back, but their sadness was palpable. . . .

Experts say that we mourn celebrities the way we mourn family members because we’ve grown up with these people. They are in our homes and part of our conversations. “When a celebrity passes, the loss is personal — not because we knew the celebrity, but because they were with us as we grew up and as we had our own special moments,” Dr. Alan Hilfer, director of psychology at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City, told U.S. News & World Report. In other words, they’re in emotional proximity to us even if we’ve never met them.

The celebrity objects of our teenage affection were safe vessels for sexual desire at a time when most boys walking the halls of our high schools didn’t quite live up to our ideals. Our celebrity crushes’ movies or music or TV shows are always available to us, so our relationships seemed ever-deepening. We’d have recognized his nose-crinkly smile anywhere; we knew the sound of his voice so well that we could replay it in our minds when we zoned out in class. On some level, the feelings were real. And years after abandoning the obsessive fantasy for more complicated relationships with real humans, some deep-down part of us is still in love with the ideal.

The Cut

For past coverage of Paul Walker’s death, continue reading here. See images of other celebrities who have died this year in the gallery below.

Max Ehrenfreund is a blogger on the Financial desk and writes for Know More and Wonkblog.
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