Fans of “Fast and Furious” film star Paul Walker filed steadily by a roadside shrine of fresh flowers, unlit candles in glass jars and handwritten signs left in his honor Wednesday, on the third anniversary of the crash that took his life.
“He’s got a big fan base, and it’s for everything he did, not just the films,” said Kyle Duval, who identified himself as a friend of the Walker family.
Walker, 40, star of the popular “Fast and Furious” action movie franchise, and his friend Roger Rodas, 38, were killed when the Porsche driven by Rodas smashed into a light pole and tree and then burst into flames Nov. 30, 2013, near Rye Canyon Loop.
A badly damaged tree in the crash, cut down to a stump soon after, now sprouts four-foot tall branches. Written in black marker on the stump itself were words left by fans expressing devotion and condolence.
As well, the curb along more than 20 feet of roadway was covered in written messages from fans.
“Every year, the city removes all the graffiti,” Duval said. “But, every year people come and they leave their mark.”
Also noticeable by the makeshift shrine are several circular black tire skid marks left across four lanes of roadway, apparently, by vehicles recently visiting the site.
Not all people responding on the anniversary Wednesday, however, were happy with the outpouring of support and sympathy.
Local sheriff’s deputies, responding to the site in at least three vehicles, in response to complaints about well-wishers stopping by the memorial.
“We got phone calls,” Deputy C. Hartman of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station told The Signal near the roadside shrine.
When asked about the number of people showing up at the memorial site, she said: “It hasn’t been too bad. I’ve seen at least 40 people here.”
Forty people, however, is more manageable than the thousands of people who poured into Santa Clarita immediately following the fatal 2013 crash.
About 6,000 people converged on Valencia for that first memorial, jamming traffic around the crash site where the two men died and forcing traffic to be re-routed.
The overwhelming turnout soon turned into an automotive parade after law enforcement, anticipating the crowds, turned streets in the area into one-way thoroughfares.
A large influx of people, in response to a memorial organized by fans on social media, brought an unprecedented number of people into the valley for a spontaneous gathering, officials had said at the time.
Attendees began arriving on Kelly Johnson Parkway in the Rye Canyon Business Park before the sun came up that day — friends, family and fans of the movie franchise that celebrates fast cars and fast action, along with car enthusiasts of every stripe.
Thousands lined part of Kelly Johnson Parkway behind barricades as if awaiting a parade, and car owners cooperated by circling the loop through the business park.
One woman at the crash site Wednesday told The Signal: “People very much, cared about him.”
One handwritten note left at the site, anchored with a black toy car and a clear toy car, read: “RIP Paul Walker. You will be truly missed. ‘If one day the speed kills, don’t cry because I was smiling.’ For Paul and Roger. Your Number One fan, Jesus.”
As fans continued to stop and pay their respects Wednesday, a deputy at one point used the loud-hailer in his department SUV to order one motorist stopped at the site, “Do not park here.”
Walker is the star of many films and best known for his work in “Fast and Furious” movie franchise.
According to Duval and other fans, he was loved and respected for the charity work he did through a non-profit called Reach Out Worldwide, which brings together a network of first responders that assemble to help victims of disasters.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt