Thousands of mourners gathered at the crash site of Paul Walker and Roger Rodas for an unofficial memorial just more than one week after the pair’s death. Fans began arriving to the site hours before the start of the memorial, which spread quickly to thousands via social media. Officials said other than the sound of car engines, the crowds were quiet and cooperative. Some small groups of people were still lingering at the site hours after most fans cleared out. Kate Larsen and Jane Yamamoto report for the NBC4 News at 9 and 11 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013.
Thousands of fans and car enthusiasts poured in Sunday to the crash site of Paul Walker and friend Roger Rodas as they remember the pair in an unofficial memorial rally and car cruise that spread via social media.
An estimated 5,000 people held silent prayers, wrote notes of remembrance on a banner and took photos as cars drove around the loop where Walker and Rodas died. Nearly 2,000 vehicles drove through the event.
Those at the event said some drove from as far as New York to attend the memorial.
A Facebook page for the memorial, "Paul Walker/Roger Rodas Memorial Meet (SoCal)," listed more than 7,000 people who said they planned to attend Sunday afternoon in the Rye Canyon Loop of Santa Clarita. People were already gathering at the site Saturday night.
"This is not an event sanctioned by the city (of Santa Clarita) or sheriff’s department," the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said in a news release Saturday. "However, residents need to anticipate the impact that an overwhelming number of cars will have on the area."
A man in his 20s was arrested on suspicion of carrying a loaded firearm in a public place, according to a watch commander at the LASD Santa Clarita Station. Deputies saw part of the handgun sticking out from his waistband and placed him under arrest, but said no one was in danger.
Six vehicles were towed and about 40 citations issued, but "the crowd was peaceful, and, with the exception of revving engines, quiet," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker
"The response we got was mostly appreciation and cooperation,'' he said.
Sheriff’s officials had been warning days before the planned memorial that mourners needed to clear the area as their presence was interfering with the crash investigation.
Two men had also been accused of stealing a part of the wrecked 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, that smashed into a light pole and tree in the 28300 block of Rye Canyon Loop before exploding in flames and killing Walker and Rodas on Dec. 1.
As the car was being towed to an impound yard for further investigation the night of the crash , a witness saw someone take a piece of the wreck from a flat-bed truck as it was stopped at a red light.
The tow truck driver reported the theft and an investigation was launched. Police identified Jameson Witty, 18, of Tujunga, as one of the suspects in the case. A second man, described only as 25 and from outside of California, was is in communication with sheriff’s detectives making arrangements to surrender, authorities said.
Walker and Rodas were in the community of Valencia, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, to attend a fundraiser benefiting victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines. The event was held by Walker's Reach Out Worldwide, a charity he founded in 2010 to aid victims of natural disasters.
An autopsy released Tuesday cited the cause of death for Walker as combined effects of trauma and burn injuries in the fiery crash. The cause of death for Rodas, 38, confirmed to be the driver, was determined to be multiple traumatic injuries.
The injuries resulted from the car striking a "fixed object," according to the autopsy report.
The coroner confirmed that Walker, 40, was alive -- but likely unconscious -- after the crash, then died in the subsequent fire. Authorities told NBC4 there was evidence of smoke inhalation.
Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said speed was a factor in the crash, but there was no evidence the pair was involved in a street race. Investigators were still trying to determine exactly what caused the crash and whether there was a mechanical reason for Rodas to have lost control of the vehicle.