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Hyundai to Pay Family of Motorcyclist Killed by Executive in DUI Crash

By Jim Greene

on September 28, 2010

South Korean industrial conglomerate Hyundai reached a financial settlement last week with the family of a motorcyclist killed in Orange County, Calif., in a 2005 hit-and-run collision caused by a Hyundai executive who was driving drunk after a company event.

Youn Burn Lee, who fled to Korea after the October 2005 collision, returned to California last year to face justice for killing Ryan Dallas Cook. Lee pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and fleeing the scene of an accident. He was sentenced in December to nine years in prison.

Hyundai Accused of Protecting Suspect

Prosecutors accused Hyundai of helping Lee flee the country, driving him to the airport within 24 hours of the collision, after he was counseled by a company attorney. Attorneys for Cook’s family said Hyundai encouraged drinking at the company-sponsored dinner Lee attended before causing Cook’s death.

At the time of the collision, after midnight, Lee was driving a company sport utility vehicle on the freeway with the headlights turned off. He veered onto the center divider, then back into traffic lanes and into the path of Cook’s motorcycle. The motorcycle accident victim was thrown to the pavement and run over by several passing vehicles.

Cook, who was 23 when he was killed, was a trombone player in the Orange County-based musical group Suburban Legends, formed in 1998.

Terms of Settlement to Remain Confidential

A civil trial in the case of the Cook family’s wrongful death lawsuit was scheduled for earlier this month, but was delayed when negotiations between Hyundai and the family began. The parties agreed that the terms of the out-of-court settlement will remain confidential.

Cook family attorney Carlton Cook said his clients are pleased that Lee was returned to face punishment and that both sides are satisfied with the settlement.

If you or someone you love is injured or killed in a traffic incident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. If negligence is involved, you may be able to receive financial compensation for medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship. Your attorney will fight to see that those responsible are held accountable.

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