[KHTS] – An impromptu memorial service and car meet drew tens of thousands of people to Santa Clarita on Sunday to pay their respects to the late actor Paul Walker and driver Roger Rodas.
Walker and Rodas died in a fiery crash Nov. 30, when Rodas, traveling at what officials called 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 SCV sheriff deputies.
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.
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.
Paul Walker – Roger Rodas
“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 mechanic shop operated by Rodas, 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.”