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'CHiPS' star Bruce Penhall files lawsuit over son's death

Connor Penhall, a subcontractor for Caltrans, was hit and killed by a suspected drunk driver on the 10 Freeway in Baldwin Park on Wednesday, April 4, 2012.

June 5, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Former "CHiPS" star and motorcycle racing champion Bruce Penhall and his wife filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday for the 2012 death of their 21-year-old son.

Connor Penhall was working as a construction worker on the 10 Freeway in Baldwin Park on April 4, 2012, when a drunk driver ran through a freeway closure and hit him.

The wrongful death suit names CalTrans, the California Highway Patrol and Flatiron Construction Company as defendants. It alleges that employees of the three failed to follow proper safety procedures for freeway closures that required barricades to be placed across all lanes of closed traffic to stop errant vehicles from reaching the construction site.

According to the lawsuit, the closure was set up without the necessary barricades, which allowed the drunk driver to have an open path to the area where Connor Penhall was working. It also contends that CHP officers were not properly positioned in the construction zone.

The alleged drunken driver, Tatsuhiko Sakamoto, was also named in the suit. Sakamoto, who remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail, is charged with one count each of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI causing injury and driving with a .08 percent blood alcohol content causing injury.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages.