Paul Walker Crash: Who Was The Man Behind The Wheel, Close Friend Roger Rodas?

  • facebook/always evolving

     (facebook/always evolving)

  • Paul Walker and Roger Rodas.

    Paul Walker and Roger Rodas.  (Always Evolving/Facebook)

  • Sheriff's deputies work near the wreckage of a Porsche that crashed into a light pole on Hercules Street near Kelly Johnson Parkway in Valencia, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013.

    Sheriff's deputies work near the wreckage of a Porsche that crashed into a light pole on Hercules Street near Kelly Johnson Parkway in Valencia, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013.  (ap)

Fans of the “Fast & Furious” film series are reeling from the sudden and shocking death Saturday afternoon of its top star Paul Walker.

Much is known about the 40-year-old actor, but what of the man who died alongside him? Salvadoran Roger Rodas, who was behind the wheel of the red Porsche Carrera GT when they hit a tree before bursting into flames, was a good friend and his financial advisor. 

The 38-year-old was a Pirelli World Challenge race car driver, a wealth manager with Bank of America/Merrill Lynch with a degree in Finance from California State University and a key factor in developing waste to energy power plants and wide farms in Central America.

A native of Santa Ana, the second largest city of El Salvador, he lived in California with his wife and two children. Friends of the car driver remember him as a man with a huge heart.

Rodas, like Walker, was a committed philanthropist. Before helping Paul Walker establish the charity Reach Out Worldwide in 2010, Rodas had created a foundation to support widows and orphans in his native El Salvador. 

According to Merrill Lynch’s Wealth Management site, Rodas and the "Fast & Furious" actor met in the mid-2000s when Walker noticed the racer driving a Porsche GT3 he had previously owned.

Their love for cars and racing brought them together and soon the two were racing side by side – they teamed up a couple years ago with two professional drivers in a pro-am 25-hour endurance race in Thunder Hill, Calif.

In 2007 Rodas became Walker’s financial advisor, helping him keep his passion for cars and racing without having it become a financial burden. The duo created and co-owned the Always Evolving Performance Shop and the Always Evolving racing team.

The Salvadoran served as chief executive officer to the performance shop – which is located in Santa Clarita, near the site of the fatal crash.

The company’s Facebook page had a heartfelt post: “Thank you all for you condolences and prayers while we mourn the loss of our loved ones.”

Walker and Rodas were coincidentally holding a charity event to benefit people affected by the typhoon in the Philippines when they went out for a spin in the red Porsche.

Rodas was also on the board of the Asomugha Foundation. The foundation’s website said Rodas' "passion for humanity is as relentless as his passion for family, friends, clients and life."

Since the news spread of the crash, fans of the movies erected a makeshift memorial near the site of the fatal crash where Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies found the car engulfed in flames.

The Sheriff’s department said Sunday that speed was a contributing factor in the one-car crash, though it will take time to determine how fast the car was going and what caused it to go out of control.

On Sunday, fans gathered to leave flowers, candles and memorabilia from the action movies. Walker’s "Fast & Furious" co-star Tyrese Gibson broke down when he visited the crash site.

Walker’s co-star Vin Diesel took to social media to share his grief. “My heart is hurting so bad. Paul Walker was a good man. RIP my friend…Sorry to the Walker family. Brother I will miss you very much. I am absolutely speechless. Heaven has gained a new Angel. RIP.”

Actor Scott Baio, a good friend of Rodas, took to Twitter over the weekend, posting an undated picture of Rodas, along with a prayer.

“Hail Mary, full of grace. Our Lord is with thee. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen RIP Roger,” the caption read.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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