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Immigrants' Hopes End in Tragedy

Crash: Elderly couple traveling with their children and grandchild died when a racing car struck their van on PCH. Police still seek to question a motorcyclist as a witness.

November 30, 1996|MARILYN MARTINEZ | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

On Thursday morning, the Youn family was a happy lot, looking forward to a Thanksgiving dinner after a leisurely drive along Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu.

As Yong Suk Youn, 36, drove his Mazda minivan, his father sat beside him in the front seat. His adult sisters chatted in back. Youn's mother was also in back, feeding his 5-month-old son a bottle when a sports car came careening toward the van.

"My brother said he couldn't do anything in that situation," said Misoon Hoyt, Youn's sister who was to serve dinner in San Pedro. "The Porsche was driving really crazy and then he hit my brother's van."

Hee Sik Youn, 73, and his wife, Chang Youn, 63, died of their injuries a few hours after the 2:30 p.m. collision on PCH, north of Sunset Boulevard. The Porsche's driver, Ardalen Motamen, 34, of Reseda, also died.

Yong Suk Youn and Mido Youn, 38, remained hospitalized Friday in good condition. Yong Suk Youn's infant son suffered scrapes, and another sister was released with a broken collarbone.

The accident was apparently triggered by a drag race between the Porsche driver and a motorcyclist, who witnesses said were speeding just before the crash, said Los Angeles Police Officer Eduardo Funes.

Funes said Motamen lost control of his Porsche, which was heading north when it slid into the highway's southbound lanes and hit the van's passenger side. The motorcyclist, whose identity is not known to authorities, did not stop. Police want to interview him as a witness.

The couple's death has left their five adult children to ponder how to continue their immigrant's tale. From Seoul, South Korea, the family had slowly immigrated to Los Angeles over the past 15 years.

The elder Youns arrived six years ago and lived in a Koreatown apartment. Hee Sik Youn, a retired pastor, took to his new country with a passion and was taking English lessons. Chang Youn worked as a seamstress.

Hee Sik Youn, who had applied to become a naturalized citizen, was scheduled for an interview with the Immigration and Naturalization Service on Dec. 20.

"He really wanted to move into the mainstream," said Hoyt, 42, who was the first of the family to leave South Korea. "He loves America. He wanted to learn."

On Thanksgiving Day, it was the family's annual ritual to enjoy a meal at Hoyt's home. This year, family members were also celebrating the arrival three weeks ago of Mido Youn from South Korea.

"They were going to Malibu to enjoy the view and were going to pick up my sister-in-law in Santa Monica where she works," Hoyt said. "Then they were going to my house for dinner. What happened is hard to believe."

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