Did Paul Walker Survive The Crash But Die in the Fire? Why It Matters to Carrera GT Owners

Fire escape panel initial

The official cause of the death listed for Paul Walker is that he died from both trauma from the crash AND burn injuries. TMZ states that  a video released early on by an on-looker appears to show Walker attempting to escape the crash.   While they offer no proof in the article, they do refer to a video that is on Youtube, and state that around the 23 second mark there is a shadowy figure.  While some may think this is macabre curiosity, there are serious issues involved if he did die in the flames and not in the crash. The car had magnesium wheels.

If TMZ is right, then it challenges the narrative of other media reports on the topic. The Daily Mail is also running with the story.  But it isn’t just challenging the narrative, if he survived the crash and died in the fire, there could be a problem for Porsche. The vehicle had warning, and magnesium wheels, which would explain more about this incident.

Well, good science involves replication. If the video does show Walker surviving the crash but succumbing to the fire, then several independent sources should be able to find it in the video.   For the purposes of education and evaluating their claim, 147 Degrees West analyzed the video, and there seems to be some likelihood that TMZ is correct.

Sometimes, a person will see what they want to see. Perhaps we want to believe he tried to escape. Perhaps the shadows are just that, shadows. But there are moments in the video enhancement that are certainly suggestive of the possibility. If this is so, then other owners of this make and model of vehicle should be concerned.

Of course, people who drive $500,000 cars probably don’t read this website, but one never knows.

Fire escape panel


TMZ also has a memo from Porsche warning about the  Carrera GT  inability to  remain stable on varied road surfaces. According to the memo, the vehicle cannot be driven over a Fosters’ beer can without becoming unstable. The memo also states the wheels are made of magnesium. If that is the case, that would explain the nature of the fire. Magnesium is used in remote regions, like Alaska, to start fires. A small amount of friction against a magnesium surface can create a fire.




Exploring the alloys for car wheels shows that most car manufacturers  don’t use magnesium any more. Aluminum, steel, and other alloys are used but apparently magnesium went by the way side for most cars in the 1960s. According to the wiki on automobile wheels, magnesium wheels can contribute to a fire if there is a flat tire.

Magnesium in bulk is hard to ignite but can be ignited by a burning tire or by prolonged scraping of the wheel on the road surface following a puncture. Once lit, it is very hard to extinguish, being able to burn under water or in carbon dioxide, which are common extinguishing materials.

Now, granted this is a wiki, and not a definitive statement on wheel metallurgy. Could a flat tire cause the car to become unstable? Did magnesium wheels contribute to the fire? If the wheels had been aluminum, would the fire have ensued? If he survived the crash, but burned to death, then the wheels on the car causing a fire could have contributed toward his demise.

Consider this scenario for a moment. Suppose a tire blew causing the vehicle to become unstable. Remember the memo from Porsche said it couldn’t be driven over a Foster’s beer can without becoming unstable. Naturally one’s instinct is to hit the brakes. If those magnesium wheels scratched the road surface, that would account for the fire. If he survived the crash, but died in the fire, that would tie his death, in part to the magnesium wheels.

This isn’t the first deadly crash with a Porsche. The Fishwrapper blog notes past accidents with Porsche ranging from James Dean to Lindsay Lohan. However, the accident with Hartwell and Dunn resulted in the bodies being burnt beyond recognition.

Zachary Hartwell, the passenger that Ryan Dunn killed while simultaneously killing himself. Dunn, traveling in a Porsche on a Pennsylvania highway at an estimated 130 miles per hour, lost control of the vehicle and crashed. The car almost immediately burst into flames, and like Paul Walker’s accident, the bodies were burned to the point of having to be identified by the decedents’ dental records.

Shouldn’t the notion of the magnesium wheels causing  or contributing to the fire be explored?

On the romantic side of the issue, maybe we simply need to believe he tried to escape. It would fulfill the personae that exemplified his career and  his life. You have to watch the video and decide for yourself if what you see is what you see. The bottom line is that it won’t bring him back. However, for some it may be good to know he likely went down fighting. For automotive manufacturers and Porsche owners, it is important to know if they could improve safety by using an alloy less prone to hot fires. Perhaps having wheels made from a likely element of Greek fire is not a good idea after all?

My deepest sympathies to his family. He was a great actor and from all accounts a decent human being. This event is beyond tragic. But if there was any possibility that the stability of the vehicle or the magnesium wheels played a factor, that needs to be brought out to save others from a similar fate.

  • Tim Mills

    Can someone hit F7 and do spell check and grammar check on the article… crazy how bad it was. I have never got a mag wheel to lite up but I have done a vw engine… mag fires on a large scale are scarrrrrry. I was never a huge fan of this guy but I would only wish a fiery death upon my enemies, truly horrific.

  • Reality bites.

    Dick head driving like a dick head is what caused the wreck. Not Porsche.

  • Martha Cortez

    If the cars are made for speed, then Porsche should make sure they are safe to drive at high speeds. How do you know how he was driving?

  • jenny

    We should just drop it.Does it really matter if he did or not? For the family sake this kind of talk needs to stop.Put yourself in their shoes,wouldnt you rather believe he went quick instead of fighting to get out and knowing he new he wouldnt.

  • KC

    WHY TMZ do you insist on tormenting the family and friends of Paul Walker? I find this whole story horrible. Do you seriously think the family would want to think that he suffered??? Sickening

  • Andrew Hill

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=aehTiH3T4uI After an accident would all those skid marks get hidden up right after a crash usually?

  • Frisky Dingo

    What a stupid article.

    You want to know what makes a car much more likely to catch fire than magnesium wheels?? Oil and fuel lines being ripped open and spewing their contents all over the place. What’s that you say??Gasoline, oil- flammable?? Yep.

    The picture clearly shows the wheels aren’t burnt, the tires aren’t melted, and the fire is centralized around the engine compartment, which is behind the occupants.

    What a pathetic attempt at drumming up some controversy.

  • matthew

    look at the road on google earth of the crash site..looks like he was changing lanes or possible drifting on that road…in the road there are small bumps or grooves extending..the road he was driving on was not a flat surface!!

  • Fontaine J Danger Marsi

    I can’t believe the soulless fuckheads that took this video didn’t even consider trying to help.

  • Laura

    I wondered this when I first saw that the car had been on fire. I just thought OMG did he die in the crash or did he burn to death? I hope he died in the crash, it would have been way less scary and painful for him.


    Two good men died. what is done is done. it is a tragic event . respect what they have done in their fields. pray for them and their families. and learn from this event so it doesn’t happen again.

  • Judith Cherbonneau

    Please remove this video from the internet. I want to believe and I’m sure the families want to believe both men died instantly. Why are you trying to make us believe this poor man burned to death? This is the most insensitive video I have ever seen. And posting views of the family and their struggles is tasteless. Leave them to grieve without cameras in their faces. Rest in peace Paul and Roger and my thoughts and prayers are with you all…family and friends. I am so sorry for your losses.

  • anonymous

    what the fuck is this nonsense? it was either a hit, or it was an accident. i’ve seen worse, but it’s also always suspect when metal just burns

  • wow, asshat.

    He wasn’t the one driving you douchenozzle, his friend Roger Rodas was.

  • Blessed to Live Now

    Cell phone society…did they call 911 or focus on filming for You Tube?

  • Selmers

    Shut the fuck up, you communist motherfucker!

  • Selmers

    OOOooooh I see… And Im sure the whole time he was yelling “Slow down!”

  • Selmers

    Does anyone remember when they made cars that would have plowed over that little tiny tree, and not folded in half and exploded?

  • redstorm928

    you do see that he didn’t identify who the ‘dick head’ was…merely pointed out that it was dick head driving that caused the accident…perhaps you should reconsider who the douchenozzle is…could be the one assuming things unsaid.

  • vernabc_is_a_liberal_troll

    and how would you suggest pulling someone out of a ball of fire?

  • vernabc_is_a_liberal_troll

    well, if they are made for speed, they should be made to handle a crash at those speeds imo.

  • Shelby Wolf

    You mean back when they made real cars? Wreck in a car even as new as ’85 is still going to give you the chance to wish to hell you were dead. The new ones, while loaded to the gills with “safety features” still crumple like paper bags on impact. Some of the newer scrapper wrecks we worked on when I went to school for collision tech didn’t look remotely as survivable as the older cars we cut up.

  • Shelby Wolf

    With some of the new brake systems you’d be lucky to lay skid standing on the brakes.

  • Martha Cortez

    What speed was that, exactly?

  • Kelly Raymond

    Regardless of what happened, i don’t think he would want his fans fighting over this topic. its getting out of hand now. they both died. it makes matters worse when the media wont let his family or friends mourn and continue to post things like this on here for people like you and i to argue over. regardless of it all they both died. i’m sure people wanted to help but the car was on fire if anyone was to go near that car it could have blown up let alone kill someone else.

  • Kelly Raymond

    And also how do they know thats even paul trying to escape it could have been roger. also nice that they keep only mentioning paul. 2 people died that day not just one. it could have been either one of them.

  • Montanalon

    Being a firefighter I can tell you that is not a person trying to get out of the vehicle. When you have a fire in a vehicle the heat turns the plastic from a solid to a gas as it heats up. For the gas to burn it has to have oxygen. The area inside the fire is oxygen starved and very little of the plastic gas burns until it gets outside of the vehicle. What looks like a person trying to get out is in fact the gas created by the melting plastic trying to get to oxygen. As it reaches oxygen it ignites and consumes the oxygen in the immediate area. The burning front moves around the black cloud of plastic gas that is moving out of the vehicle. It looks very much like movement of a body right down to the twitching jerky movements.

    The other guy was killed instantly. The chances of anyone staying conscious in a crash that killed the guy next to him is slim, extremely thin. Killed instantly in a wreck usually means the spinal cord was severed at the base of the skull by the dislocating fracture of the C-1 vertebrae. The force needed to cause that injury is enough to bounce the brain off the skull both front and back and render a person unconscious instantly. That is called a “Coup/ Contrecoup concussion. This is the sort of injury that puts people into a permanently vegetative state from brain swelling after the injury.

    From the surveillance video it appears the fire started instantly and progressed rapidly to full involvement. The chances any person would have been knocked out and come to in that time frame are extremely small. There is nothing indicating he tried to get out beyond the video of the shadow which I explained above. The fire may have killed him but he never felt a thing, he was already unconscious.

  • Judith Cherbonneau

    I pray your version of this tragic event is indeed correct. No one wants to think either man was conscious and suffered in the slightest. Thank you for posting this…it makes me feel so much better knowing he never knew what happened. Rest in peace, Paul and Roger and God bless your families.

  • Chris

    Many, many reports of people trying to get his seat belt undone to get him out while firefighters were trying to pull those people away, one even punching the firefighter that was trying to pull him away. They ALL stated that he was unconscious (or already deceased, not verified). You see no movement. You hear no sounds from a person in the car. He was gone. My opinion. If the autopsy shows smoke in the lungs, then he was at least unconscious. I would sure hope so at least. I’ve worked in burn units and ER’s too much to know that being burned so severely is no life you want to live. My prayers are that he had a quick end to his life with no suffering. With so many witnesses, that’s also my thoughts on what happened. RIP.

  • vernabc_is_a_liberal_troll

    you tell me, you are the one who said they are “made for speed”

  • TheDarkSide

    I can’t see SHIT in the video . WTF are we they looking at ? Was this a convertible? If not, then
    how can someone be in the flames OUTSIDE of the car, unless he is hanging halfway out the window.

    Did they find his body dangling half-way out the window?
    This is Stupid.

  • TheDarkSide


  • TheDarkSide

    Thumbs down to your stupid comment.
    Those cars are not made for driving at high speeds in residential areas.

  • TheDarkSide

    Jenny, shut the fuck up.

  • TheDarkSide

    He burned to death, dude.
    Don’t fool yourself.

  • TheDarkSide

    Cars only blow up in movies.
    People are so scared now-a-days, thinking that cars explode,
    that no one has a chance to be saved if it catches fire.

    Hollywood really needs to make car crashes REAL, and stop packing them
    with explosions .

  • Martha Cortez

    Reality bites said dickhead was driving like a dickhead. What exactly does that mean? And iI’m so sure you have never driven over the speed limit. None of us know what happened unless you witnessed that drive. I read this particular vehicle is made to exceed 200 mph. That’s why I said if Porsche makes this vehicle to drive at high speed, they should make sure they are safe to drive at high speeds. These were professional drivers. As for you TheDarkSide, that didn’t look like a residential area to me. Don’t you think there is a possibility that something went wrong with the car? It is possible.

  • TeaPartyBarbie

    This story is really about the car. What good is surviving the crash if you burn to death by a fire caused by magnesium wheels?

  • TeaPartyBarbie

    The surveillance video is indeterminate. That is a fact. You can’t tell the moment of crash…only the moment of explosion. This video shows post impact and pre-explosion.

  • TeaPartyBarbie

    The driver appears to have died on impact.

  • TeaPartyBarbie

    I think you also miss the comparison to the other wreck in PA. While at high speeds the vehicle did burst into flames

  • Bulldog

    wheels did not burn. composite body did

  • 42

    you need help.

  • Bulldog

    was there a turn around track in the video?

  • sara45

    look at the car,he had to of died instantly,even if it didnt catch fire,he wouldnt of lived threw his injuries

  • guest

    I can’t believe no one else has noticed. You can clearly see the driver hanging out of the car. The person in the video also says, “Look at the driver there, he’s dead.” I can’t believe no one at least pulled him to safety even if he had already passed. So terribly tragic. Now it makes sense why autopsy said Rodas died of impact and Walker died of injuries & thermal.

  • kelis

    Anybody ever think that it could be one of his friends or by stander trying to help them? Paul Walker had his seatbelt still on. Why the hell would he be in the BACK of the car when he died in his seat? You people are turning a poor man’s death into drama. Shame on you.