Paul Walker, star of Universal Pictures' "Fast and the Furious" movie franchise, died Saturday following a single-car accident in Valencia, Calif., Variety has confirmed. He was 40.

"All of us at Universal are heartbroken," the studio said in a statement issued Saturday night. "Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the 'Fast and Furious' films, and to countless fans. We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Paul's family."

Walker's official Twitter and Facebook pages also confirmed his death, which was first reported by TMZ.



According to Walker's official Facebook page, he was the passenger in a car driven by a friend following a charity event.

A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department could not confirm the identities of the two victims nor confirm the cause of the accident.

Authorities said they responded to the crash at about 3:30 p.m. PT in the 28300 block of Rye Canyon Loop and found the car engulfed in flames. The victims were pronounced dead at the scene. The sheriff's department said the L.A. County Coroner's Office would determine the victims' identities and cause of death.

Walker appeared in all but one of the successful "Fast and the Furious" movies. His other credits include "Varsity Blues," "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Takers."

Walker was a highly sought-after leading man in action and indie dramas. Among his upcoming features awaiting release are Relativity Media's "Brick Mansions" and "Vehicle 19." "Hours," a drama set in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, is due out Dec. 13 from Lionsgate's Pantelion Films.

A native of Glendale, Calif., Walker got his start as a youth in commercials and TV series ranging from "Charles in Charge" to "Who's the Boss" to "The Young and the Restless." He was a protege of famed talent agent Ed Limato, and began to make his mark in features in the late 1990s with roles in 1998′s "Pleasantville" and 1999′s "Varsity Blues" before breaking out with the first "Fast and the Furious" pic in 2001.

Among Walker's other notable pics were 2006′s "Running Scared" and "Flags of Our Fathers."

Most recently, Walker was in production on the seventh installment of the "Fast and Furious" franchise -- an eerie reality given the nature of his death. The street racing franchise is Universal's most valuable active pic franchise. Walker's death will undoubtedly leave a significant void in the pic now in production and subsequent installments.

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