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Man pleads guilty to '05 death of motorcyclist in crash

Youn Lee was driving under the influence of alcohol when he hit the 55 Freeway center divider. Ryan Dallas Cook rear-ended Lee's vehicle and was killed. Lee then fled to South Korea.

November 12, 2009|Robert J. Lopez

An Irvine man who fled to South Korea to avoid arrest pleaded guilty to killing a motorcyclist while under the influence of alcohol.

Youn Lee, 42, killed Ryan Dallas Cook in October 2005 as 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 liquor, 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 rear-ended Lee's vehicle and was thrown onto the freeway, where he was run over by several other vehicles, prosecutors said.

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

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 and was returned to the U.S. in January. Lee could get up to nine years in state prison when sentenced Dec. 7, prosecutors said.

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robert.lopez@latimes.com

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