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Irvine man pleads guilty to killing motorcyclist in 2005 while driving under the influence

November 10, 2009 |  9:22 pm
An Irvine man who fled to South Korea to avoid arrest pleaded guilty today to killing a motorcyclist while under the influence of alcohol.

Youn Bum Lee, 42, killed Ryan Dallas Cook in October 2005 while Cook was riding his motorcycle in the carpool lane on the 55 Freeway in Santa Ana, prosecutors said.

Before the accident, Lee and six co-workers had consumed 14 bottles of soju, a Korean rice wine, before heading to a karaoke bar where they continued drinking, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

Lee drove his SUV with the headlights off and crashed into the center median of the 55 Freeway. Cook then smashed into the rear of the vehicle and was thrown onto the freeway, were he was run over by several other vehicles, prosecutors said.

Cook, 23, of Fountain Valley, was a student at Golden West College in Huntington Beach.

After the accident, Lee fled the scene and left the next day for South Korea, according to prosecutors. He was arrested there in December 2008 on a fugitive warrant and was returned to the United States in January.

Lee could receive up to nine years in state prison when sentenced Dec. 7, prosecutors said.

-- Robert J. Lopez