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.

Comments (7)
  1. I Love Los Angeles says:

    John Brooks who works for KNX 1070 radio is an N.Y. jerk.

  2. susan says:

    i am sure this man willl be convicted and do the ususal “apology” thing to the family..i think thats absurd because no apology in the world will bring back a child lost to someones negligence and stupidity..sympathy to the family…

  3. Bobby says:

    Sincere conndolences to the Penhall family. May God ease your pain.

  4. María Eugenia Sáez says:

    a uniquely valuable young man, our terrible loss; the family, though grieving, should know that they produced great children, and that the death of Connor makes us all know about him, a hard working community engaged athlete. A monument to him is what we need; let there be funds in Baldwin Park for a statue to Connor as a conmemoratory image to honor those youths that serve the community with their work, example, and presence. May God bless the family through Connor. He was a handsome young man with an intelligent, healthy, idealistic look, a fine specimen. A big hug for the parents and sibblings. A smile through the tears.

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