SANTA ANA, Calif. – Orange County, Calif. District Attorney Todd Spitzer today launched a nationwide anti-street racing Public Service Announcement campaign featuring actors Sung Kang and Cody Walker of the Fast & Furious media franchise to warn drivers of the deadly dangers of illegal street racing and street takeovers, which exploded in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Orange County District Attorney’s anti-street racing PSA is being made available to every law enforcement agency in the United States in an effort to curb injuries and deaths related to street racing.
“Like many of you, I too have lost somebody due to reckless driving,” said Cody Walker, the brother of late Fast & Furious actor Paul Walker who was killed in 2013 when the speeding Porsche he was riding in crashed into a power pole. Walker’s friend, Roger Rodas, was driving and was also killed. “I think a lot of the time when those of us that want to go fast, or we have something to prove, we don’t take into consideration the lives of those around us. It’s not just you that you’re putting in jeopardy it’s everybody else around you. So don’t be dumb, take it to the track. There’s somebody at home that loves you that’s expecting you to return. It’s not worth the risk I promise.”
District Attorney Spitzer was joined at Friday’s announcement by Pat Buchanan, the widow of 67-year-old Gene Harbrecht who was an innocent bystander killed in a midday street race in Santa Ana in 2020 and Lili Trujillo Puckett, who founded the non-profit Street Racing Kills to educate young people about the dangers of illegal street racing after her 16-year-old daughter Valentina was killed by a driver who was street racing and crashed while giving the teenager a ride in 2013.
“For many years I’ve been educating and mentoring the youth regarding the dangers of illegal street racing and reckless driving, one of the things I’ve seen most among young drivers is how they glorify the Fast and Furious franchise and how they look up to all actors of these movies,” said Trujillo Puckett. “What they have to say this will mean the world to them and will undoubtedly save lives.”
With illegal street racing and street takeovers growing exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office joined 10 other Orange County law enforcement agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, to form Strategic Traffic Enforcement Against Racing & Reckless Driving (STEARRD), a countywide law enforcement partnership to crack down on illegal street racing and street takeovers.
The joint anti-street racing taskforce has conducted dozens of operations to combat illegal street racing and street takeovers, resulting in citations, impounds and arrests across Orange County. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is actively prosecuting numerous street racing cases, including murder charges against a previously convicted impaired driver who killed 67-year-old Gene Harbrecht in an illegal 2020 street race, a case against a street racer who returned to the crash site to watch two men burn to death after they crashed into a tree, and five defendants, including three YouTube stars, who were charged with multiple felonies for conspiring to set up illegal street races in which drivers reached in excess of 190 mph on the 241 toll road.
One of the defendants in that case was out on bail for evading police and resisting arrest when he continued to meet other street racers to set up illegal street races.
“Taking over streets, destroying intersections, and driving nearly 190 mph in traffic next to innocent drivers and passengers are dangerous and violent crimes and the must be treated as such,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “No one – and I mean no one – gets to kill an innocent bystander in pursuit of a high-speed adrenaline rush and get away with it in Orange County. If you refuse to keep it on the track, we will find you, we will arrest you and we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. These are not numbers. These are real people with real futures – futures that were devastated by illegal street racing. I want to thank Sung Kang, Cody Walker, Larry Chen, and all the professional drivers and crew who made this PSA a reality. It is a true leader who uses their fame and notoriety to educate the young people who look up to them and encourage them to be responsible and make the right choice to keep it on the track.”
Sung Kang, who first portrayed Han Lue in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, directed the OCDA’s PSA and world-renowned car culture and commercial automotive photographer Larry Chen oversaw cinematography for the project.
“I wish our special effects could bring back our loved ones, but unfortunately that won’t be the case,” said Sung Kang. “We are honored to be able to be part of such an important message. Stop racing on the streets and go to the track!”