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Former Hyundai executive pleads guilty in 2005 DUI hit-and-run

Posted on Nov 11, 2009

Youn Burn Lee, a 42 year old former Hyundai executive, has pled guilty to vehicular manslaughter charges resulting from an October 2005 hit-and-run accident. The crash resulted in the death of motorcyclist Ryan Dallas Cook. Lee was under the influence of alcohol at the time. 
After the accident, Lee, formerly a resident of Irvine, fled to South Korea. Lee was arrested in Seoul in December 2008, and was extradited back to Orange County to stand trial.
According to the Orange County district Attorney’s Office, Lee pled guilty to one felony count of vehicular manslaughter by unlawful act with gross negligence while intoxicated. He will be sentenced on December 7. It is expected that Lee will serve nine years in state prison, including a sentencing enhancement for fleeing the scene of the crime.
The accident followed a company-sponsored dinner at the Seoul Oak Korean BBQ Restaurant in Garden Grove. The group had finished 14 bottles of soju, a distilled Korean rice wine, before heading to a nearby karaoke bar where they continued to consume alcohol.  
Lee left the gathering in a black, company-issued SUV. He drove with his headlights off along the 22 freeway onto southbound 55. On 55, he veered into the carpool lane and crashed into the center median. Cook, was riding his motorcycle in the carpool lane, and was unable to stop in time to avoid slamming into Lee’s unlit, black vehicle.

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