Man Charged in Death of Racer Bruce Penhall's Son Free on Bail
Tatsuhiko Sakamoto is accused of gross vehicular manslaughter and driving with a .08 percent blood alcohol level.
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Connor Penhall, 21 (KTLA-TV / April 5, 2012)
Tatsuhiko Sakamoto, 37, allegedly drove through traffic cones and hit 21-year-old Connor Penhall, of Corona, who was doing construction work on a closed section of the 10 Freeway.
Penhall was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sakamoto has been charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
He is accused of driving with a blood-alcohol level above the .08 legal standard when he struck and killed Penhall, prosecutors said.
Sakamoto is free on $200,000 bail. He faces up to 10 years in state prison.
The accident happened around midnight last Thursday on the westbound 10 at Francisquito Avenue in Baldwin Park, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The CHP said the 10 is closed nightly between La Puente Avenue and the 605 Freeway.
Tatsuhiko hit Penhall with his Toyota RAV4 while driving about 60 mph, tossing him 50 to 75 feet.
Tatsuhiko initially tried to flee, but officers were able to keep him at the scene, CHP Officer Edmund Zorilla said.
Penhall's father Bruce is best known for his role on the final season of "CHiPs."
Penhall is also a former American motorcycle speedway racer. He was the World Speedway Champion in 1981 and 1982.
Connor was said to be following in his father's footsteps in the racing world.
He had been racing motorcycles since 2003, wearing the number 81.
His brother, Ryan Penhall, is also a motorcycle racer.
Caltrans says safety programs like "Slow for the Cone Zone" have reduced traffic fatalities on highways significantly, but these kinds of accident still happen all too often.
Following the acvident, the CHP tweeted, "Our condolences to our brother Bruce Penhall and his family. Your extended CHP family mourns along with you. Rest in Peace @ConnorPenhall."
runtime:topic id="ORGOV000939">LAPD Chief Charlie Beck also posted to Twitter, saying, "Godspeed to Connor Penhall! My heart goes out to Bruce and his family."