Motorcyclist killed in crash was Maple Grove native

(Editor’s note: The following story is from Stephen K. Peeples of KHTS AM-1200 in Santa Clarita, Calif.)

Steven Kokkila, 26, a resident of Canyon Country and former Maple Grove resident, died in a solo motorcycle accident on Sierra Highway near College of the Canyons’ Canyon Country campus Friday, June 22, about 10:05 p.m., according to Lt. Eric Lasko of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

The station received a call at 10:09 p.m., Lasko said. "When deputies arrived they saw that the motorcycle rider had been ejected from the vehicle and observed him to be deceased at the scene. It looks like speed was possibly a factor… he was driving at a high rate of speed, according to at least one witness."

According to a news release, Kokkila was driving northbound on Sierra Highway at a high rate of speed and lost control just south of Linda Vista Street. He drove over the center median and hit several trees before coming to rest in the southbound lanes of Sierra Highway.

L.A. County Fire paramedics arrived at the scene shortly thereafter and pronounced Kokkila dead, Lasko said.

"It took about four and a half hours to investigate," Lasko said. "The Coroner came and removed the body from the scene."

Lasko said it’s not known at this time whether alcohol or drugs were a factor in the collision.

"There’s nothing (about that) right now," he said. "The Coroner is going to have to do toxicology. Right now, so far, the biggest factor looks like speed."

Steven Edward Kokkila was born in Minneapolis, on June 19, 1986. He is survived by his parents, Ed Kokkila and Sandra Pearson, and sister Kristin, 30, all of Maple Grove.

They were all together with other family members in Maple Grove on Saturday, supporting each other and making sure no one was left alone, his father told this reporter. But Pearson "is taking it very hard," he said. Asked how he was doing, he said, "Not so good."

Steven Kokkila relocated to the Santa Clarita Valley with his mother in 2000 when she accepted employment here. He graduated from Bowman High School in 2004 then attended College of the Canyons. He returned to Minnesota in spring 2008 to attend school there. He was a 2010 graduate of the Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis, where he earned a degree in Electrical Construction and Maintenance.

Ed Kokkila said his son returned to the SCV in September 2011, because he wanted to reconnect with the friends and contacts he had made during his earlier time here.

Steven Kokkila was working for a security company in the SCV installing security and cable systems, and was back together with his high school sweetheart, Veronica J. Peeples, of Canyon Country, his father said. They had met in 2004 while still in high school and were a couple until he went to Minnesota to attend Dunwoody.

Asked about particularly fond memories of his son, Kokkila said they were countless, but shared two.

One was a Halloween a few years ago in Minnesota. "He made the decision to dress up as Santa, and he and his sister Kristin and her friends went downtown Minneapolis, bar-hopping and stuff," Kokkila said. "Apparently Steven had all sorts of women that wanted to sit on Santa’s lap, and I really got a kick out of that. The next day, he was just in heaven because of all of the attention he was getting and how much fun it was.

Kokkila said he and Steven’s mother (who divorced in 1990) are finalizing plans to have their son’s body cremated and returned to Minnesota for interment.

Meanwhile, Kristin Kokkila has set up a Facebook group page for her brother titled "Steve Kokkila AKA Hamster will be missed" for family and friends to post messages and photos (he got the nickname in elementary school and it stuck).

How would Ed Kokkila like people to remember his son? "He was genuine. He was friends with everybody. He didn’t have any enemies. He was just a good-natured kid."

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