An Arcadia man was convicted today of the drunken-driving crash that killed the 21-year-old son of actor and motorcycle racing champion Bruce Penhall.
Tatsuhiko Sakamoto, 39, was found guilty of one count each of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving with a .08 percent blood alcohol content causing great bodily injury. The jury also found a special allegation of causing great bodily injury to be true, according to the District Attorney's Office.
The panel, however, hung on a murder count. Prosecutors were expected to return to Pomona Superior Court on Dec. 2 with a motion for a new trial on that charge, officials said.
Sakamoto drove a Toyota Rav4 through traffic cones on the westbound side of the San Bernardino 10 Freeway at Francisquito Avenue about midnight on April 4, 2012, hitting Connor Penhall.
The Corona man, who was operating a concrete saw for a Caltrans subcontractor, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The victim's parents filed suit against Caltrans and one of its contractors in June, alleging that safety violations contributed to the fatal crash. The lawsuit also names the California Highway Patrol as a defendant, along with Sakamoto.
The suit alleges that Sakamoto drove over a single cone at the beginning of the freeway closure area, then drove roughly 3,500 feet in the left lane because barricades "required by the 'standard plan' to be placed every 2,000 feet across all lanes and shoulders were not in place to obstruct Sakamoto's path."
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages.
Bruce Penhall portrayed Officer Bruce Nelson in the final season of the "CHiPs" television series. His son also competed in motorcycle races.