An impromptu Paul Walker car meet memorial Sunday drew tens of thousands of people to Santa Clarita to pay their respects to the movie star and CEO Roger Rodas.
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Walker and Rodas died in a fiery crash Nov. 30, when the two, traveling at a “very high rate of speed” lost control of a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT and crashed it into a light pole.
A motorcade of everything from Lamborghinis to tricked out Hyundais paraded past the crash site, which was tightly managed by a slew of Sheriff’s Department officials.
Denise Guerrero, 30, of Brea, said she heard about the event on Facebook, and drove out to pay her respects because she loved Paul Walker.
“He was a beautiful person,” she said. “I didn’t know him, but I felt like I did. I’ve seen every movie he’s ever been in.”
Walker also seemed to have a connection to the street racing movies, as well, said Dan Pham, 25, of Santa Barbara, who said Walker’s movies inspired his love of cars.
“The ‘Fast and the Furious’ movies got me into the car scene,” said Pham, who added that Walker had a home in Carpinteria, and the star would visit his brother’s auto shop.
People came from Orange County, Arizona, Texas and even New Zealand to come and see the site of Walker and Rodas’ fatal crash.
Some were hoping to see celebrities, others were grieving the loss of someone whose work made a major impact on their lives.
The turnout, which began at 6 a.m., and featured a long line of cars and people surrounding the area by 9 a.m. surprised many, including Bob Hudson, an associate pastor for North Park church.
There was no program, memorial or organization for the event, which was spurred by a slew of Facebook pages and news outlets.
Dozens from the church, which lent its lot to those who sought to park cars from the movie, volunteered to hand out water, coffee and food to visitors.
“As pastors and staff, we got together and said, ‘Well, we should respond and, in some way, we should be a part of this,” Hudson said.
“They’re neighbors of ours and that’s just kind of what we do for neighbors,” said Eric Johns, who’s also an associate pastor at NorthPark Community Church on Kelly Johnson Parkway.
The church’s property abuts a high-end mechanics’ show owned by Rodas and barely 100 yards from the crash site.
The family and friends of the movie star had a private memorial earlier in the week.
“We wanted to reach out however we can to help those who are grieving,” Johns added.
Hudson said he was surprised by the size of the crowd, but added he was glad the church was able to help those grieving.
“You could see the people with tears welling up in their eyes, and people are really hurting,” he said. “For whatever reason, Paul Walker connected with this community in a way that’s pretty remarkable. Nelson Mandela died this week, and I can see somebody like him having this kind of response, but for an actor to have this kind of response, I think, it’s pretty rare.”