Former Hyundai Executive Pleads Guilty to Vehicular Manslaughter
Youn Bum Lee, 42, a former Hyundai executive who was extradited from South Korea, has pleaded guilty to one count of felony vehicular manslaughter in connection with a fatal Orange County car accident in 2005. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, Lee fled to his home country after causing a car accident on October 19, 2005, which killed 23-year-old Ryan Dallas Cook. At the time of the accident Cook, a Fountain Valley resident, had been riding his motorcycle. Lee was apparently at a Hyundai party that night. His group first drank Korean rice wine and then moved the party to a karaoke bar where Lee consumed more alcohol before getting behind the wheel of his SUV.
Fatal DUI Car Accident Kills Motorcyclist
Lee drove under the influence of alcohol with his headlights turned off and crashed his vehicle into the center divider on the 55 Freeway in Santa Ana. Cook who was riding his motorcycle in the carpool lane was unable to stop in time to avoid crashing into Lee’s dark vehicle. After the accident, Lee fled the scene of the accident. The following day, he consulted with Hyundai’s general counsel and was driven to LAX by a colleague and a supervisor where he caught a flight to Seoul. Lee was extradited from South Korea and returned to Orange County in January. He faces nine years in state prison.
I’m glad that this drunk driver who heartlessly fled the scene of a fatal accident, has been brought to justice. My heart goes out to the family and friends of Ryan Cook, who have been grieving his loss all these years and must have been yearning for justice and closure in this case.
Wrongful Death Claim Filed
I will also be closely watching the civil case, which the Cook family has filed against Lee and Hyundai. There is no question in my mind that Hyundai executives involved in this case should be held accountable for Cook’s death. Lee got drunk at a company-sponsored party and based on testimony provided by his own colleague, the group consumed 14 bottles of rice wine and then some at the karaoke bar! No one tried to take his keys away. No one from Hyundai even tried to stop him driving his company car that night.
In such cases, families of deceased victims can file wrongful death claims against the negligent parties. In this case, I believe that Cook’s family is entitled to compensation for the loss of their loved one and for all resulting expenses and financial hardship such as funeral expenses, hospital bills and future loss of earnings. Lee and his employer, Hyundai Motor Corporation, must be brought to justice and held accountable for their wrongdoing.
The BISNAR|CHASE personal injury law firm is not representing any of the parties mentioned in this article at the time the article was posted. Our information source is cited in the article. If you were involved in this incident or a similar incident and have questions as to your rights and options, call us or another reputable law firm. Do not act solely upon the information provided herein. Get a consultation. The best law firms will provide a free consultation. We provide a free, confidential consultation to not at fault persons named in this article. The free consultation offer extends to family members as well.