A local family is grappling with grief as they mourn the loss of two children, both victims of fatal car accidents occurring exactly three months apart.
The first tragedy unfolded in September when their 12-year-old son, Brighton Penkacik, while fleeing from a dog, ran into oncoming traffic, was struck by a car, and tragically lost his life.
The second heartbreaking incident occurred recently on Friday when their 25-year-old son, Dalton, was walking to work early in the morning and became a victim of a hit-and-run on Blanding Boulevard.
Jason Penkacik, the father of both children, expressed to News4Jax that the situation feels like a nightmarish movie. The pain of losing his 12-year-old son was still fresh, with him admitting to crying three to four times a week. The loss of Dalton only compounded their grief.
On Friday, Jason and Shawnee Penkacik received the devastating news from the police that their 25-year-old son had been killed in a hit-and-run on Blanding Boulevard. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office reported that an officer discovered Dalton lying in the road around 1:15 a.m.
According to the family, Dalton was out at that early hour because he was on his way to his morning shift at the Amazon warehouse.
Describing Dalton as a kind, loving, and compassionate individual, his parents painted a picture of a son with a gentle soul.
Exactly three months prior to Dalton’s tragic death, his 12-year-old brother Brighton had lost his life. According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Brighton and his younger brother were walking to school when they found themselves being chased by a dog. The younger brother stopped, but Brighton continued running and, unfortunately, ran into oncoming traffic, resulting in a fatal collision.
Jason Penkacik shared the emotional weight of the situation, saying, “It’s tough. There’s so much irony into it. Friday the first. Early morning just the start of your day. For Brighton, I was just getting ready to go to work. I was woken out of bed by Dalton. It feels like a horror movie that I don’t know if Hollywood could write.”
The grieving parents expressed that they never anticipated facing such a tragic reality and appealed for someone to come forward and take responsibility for hitting Dalton before fleeing the scene. They hope that closure will aid in their healing process.
Detectives working on the case believe the vehicle involved in Dalton’s hit and run is a Volkswagen, based on evidence at the scene. The family is urging anyone with information to step forward and assist the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in their investigation.