Lamont Bentley, a promising actor who appeared in more than a dozen films and television shows but was best known for his role on the comedy series "Moesha," died early Wednesday in a car crash in Ventura County. He was 31.
Bentley was traveling alone on the 118 Freeway near Simi Valley shortly after midnight when he headed for the Rocky Peak Fire Road offramp at a high speed, witnesses told authorities. His Mercedes-Benz ran through a stop sign, tore through a chain-link fence across the street, and rolled down an embankment, where he was thrown from the car into freeway traffic.
Bentley was hit by up to five cars before authorities reached him, said Craig Stevens, a senior deputy medical examiner for Ventura County.
Bentley was pronounced dead at 12:23 a.m. An autopsy concluded that he died of multiple blunt force injuries. The results revealed no drugs or alcohol in his system, but his body will undergo further examination, Stevens said.
Bentley's manager, Susan Ferris, said the actor attended a screening in Westwood on Tuesday night of the short independent film "Shards," in which he had a prominent part. He was excited over his role and believed his work would be rewarded with more opportunities, Ferris said.
"He was a bright candle that just got snuffed out," she said. "He was in a great place emotionally, physically. Everything was going right for him."
Bentley played Hakeem Campbell on "Moesha," a sitcom starring the singer-actress Brandy that was set in the southwest Los Angeles neighborhood of Leimert Park. The series ran for five years and ended in 2001.
"Moesha," which spun off another hit series, "The Parkers," is shown in syndication on "N," the teen version of the children's cable network "Noggin."
Bentley appeared in numerous other shows, including "Clueless," "NYPD Blue" and the "Parent 'Hood." He also had roles in "Too Legit: The MC Hammer Story," "The Wash" and "Tales From the Hood."
Bentley was born in Milwaukee on Oct. 25, 1973. He is survived by two young daughters and his mother, who lived with him in Granada Hills. Funeral arrangements were pending, Ferris said.