California driver charged with DUI in fatal crash on closed road

Posted on in Wrongful Death

A driver involved in a fatal accident last week stands accused of driving drunk and could face significant jail time, not to mention a civil lawsuit. The 37-year-old man from Arcadia, California, struck a road construction worker late last Wednesday night on the westbound 10 Freeway in Baldwin Park.

California State Police said the man drove his SUV into an area that was closed off to traffic with orange cones. After driving through the barricade, he struck a 21-year-old man who was operating a concrete saw as part of a contract crew working for Caltrans, the CHP said. The young worker died at the scene.

The driver was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, felony drunken driving and driving without a license. He was scheduled to be arraigned this week, but his hearing has been pushed back until the end of this month. If he's convicted, he could be sentenced to 10 years in state prison, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

But beyond the criminal charges, he could become the defendant in a civil wrongful-death lawsuit if the victim's family chooses to file one. The victim is the son of champion motorcycle rider-turned-actor Bruce Penhall, who was called to the scene of the crash to identify his son. This celebrity connection could bring some publicity to the case, though more likely to affect the outcome of a civil suit is a drunk-driving conviction. If the family and their legal counsel can prove that intoxication led to the death of the young man, they could receive compensation for any funeral and burial costs, along with other damages.

Source: The Orange County Register, "Driver faces charges in death of cycle racer's son," Doug Irving, April 9, 2012

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