A former Hyundai Motor America executive accused in a drunken driving crash that killed a motorcyclist in Orange County has been sentenced to nine years in prison. Before the sentencing, the victim's family spoke out, calling the defendant a "coward."
The former Hyundai executive, Youn Bum Lee, pleaded guilty last month to felony vehicular manslaughter in a drunken driving crash that killed college student Ryan Dallas Cook.
Lee crashed his company car in 2005 after drinking with colleagues, prosecutors say. Cook slammed into Lee's car and was thrown onto the 55 Freeway, where he was hit by other cars. Cook was pronounced dead at the scene. Lee had been driving his SUV with the headlights off, according to prosecutors.
Cook, 23, of Fountain Valley, was a student at Golden West College.
Prosecutors say Lee boarded a flight to Korea the day after the crash, leaving his family behind. Lee was arrested in Seoul last year and was returned in January to Orange County.
In a Santa Ana courtroom Monday, Lee had to face the victim's family and friends.
"I don't understand. He made a mistake he ran away like a coward. He acted like his image was more important than my son's life," said Janet Cook, the victim's mother.
"I have a recurring dream that he will show up at one of our shows and say it was all a mistake. I'm perfectly fine. But the reality is I will never see him again," said Brian Robertson, friend and band mate of Ryan Dallas Cook.
Speaking through an interpreter Lee said, "I am really sorry. Very sorry."