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Two Men Hailed for Apprehending Hit-and-Run Driver

January 03, 1991|JOSH MEYER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The California Highway Patrol has awarded special certificates of appreciation to two men who apprehended a suspect fleeing the scene of a fatal hit-and-run accident in Malibu.

At a ceremony at the CHP's Malibu station on Friday, Ernest Weiskerger of Thousand Oaks and Richard Townsend of Ridgecrest were cited by CHP Commissioner Maury Hannigan for their "prompt action" last July in apprehending a man later convicted of manslaughter in the death of Malibu resident Tracy Clarke.

"It is encouraging to all law enforcement officers to know that there are citizens like Mr. Weiskerger and Mr. Townsend who are willing to become involved," the CHP said in a statement. "Their actions were a great service to the community and were instrumental in bringing (suspect Danilo) Herrera to justice."

Weiskerger, 27, and Townsend, 20, were driving down Pacific Coast Highway about 8 a.m. on July 29, 1990, when they noticed a car parked by the side of the road with a bicycle wedged underneath it, according to Officer Scott MacGregor, a spokesman for the CHP. After driving farther and reaching the scene where Clarke had been struck by a car while bicycling, the two men sped back to the disabled car and apprehended Herrera.

Weiskerger and Townsend then brought Herrera and another man back to the scene of the collision and held them there until authorities arrived, MacGregor said.

According to the CHP, Herrera was driving while intoxicated and allowed his vehicle to drift off the road, striking Clarke, who was embarking on a 70-mile endurance ride with several friends.

Herrera was charged with felony drunk driving, gross vehicular manslaughter and felony hit and run, authorities said. He was subsequently convicted of the manslaughter and hit-and-run charges and sentenced to 11 years in prison, the CHP said. A passenger in his car was not charged.

Clarke, 26, was training to compete in Canada's Iron Man triathlon when she was killed. At the time, she was activities director for Castle Hill Retirement Village in Thousand Oaks. She also worked as a seasonal lifeguard at Point Mugu State Park and ran outdoor education programs at the Wilderness Institute in Agoura Hills.

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