LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The parents of Connor M. Penhall, killed allegedly by a drunk driver, released statements Friday to thank supporters and express their grief over losing their 21-year-old son.
Penhall was the son of former “CHiPs” actor Bruce Penhall, a World Speedway Champion in 1981 and 82, as well as a legend in motorcycle racing circles.
The younger Penhall was killed Wednesday night while working on a closed portion of the 10 Freeway in Baldwin Park. CHP officers said Tatsuhiko Sakamoto, an alleged drunk driver, plowed through barricades and hit Penhall.
Sakamoto, 37, was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter. Sakamoto’s car has Hawaii plates but he’s believed to be a resident of Arcadia.
“Over the past two days, my family and I have been overwhelmed by the tremendous international outpouring of support as a result of the news reporting, Facebook fans, family, friends and the motorsports community at large. We’re so grateful to have such support at this very emotional and difficult time,” Bruce Penhall said.
“One hopes to never have to plan for such a tragic event involving one of your kids. It truly can happen to anyone,” said Laurie Penhall, Connor’s mother.
The younger Penhall was a motorcross champion in his own right, becoming California champion.
A Penhall family spokesperson said the family isn’t currently planning a public memorial and asked for privacy while they grieve.
Penhall’s parents said “Connor was a huge lover of dogs and animals.” The family wishes for those seeking to offer support that in lieu of flowers, gifts or food, please consider a donation to Best Friends Animal Society in memory of Connor Penhall at http://www.bestfriends.org.
Penhall, a resident of Corona, is survived by his parents and three siblings, Devin, Ryan and McKenzie Penhall.