A car accident in Queens early last Saturday ended in a passenger being killed and the drunk driver remorseful and suicidal.
The driver, a grad student at Long Island University, was reported to have been studying pharmacy. He is now facing vehicular manslaughter charges and DUI and a possible 15 years in prison.
The man, Kyung Ru Song, was apparently drinking in a bar with a young woman near the intersection of Sanford Avenue and 162nd Street. The couple left the bar in the early hours of Saturday morning, and Song reported to the police that he was driving the woman “home,” although he appeared to be unsure exactly where “home” was. He crashed the car, a Porsche, into the back of a parked school bus only seven blocks from where the couple was drinking.
Later on, Song admitted that his passenger had pleaded with him to drive more slowly, but unfortunately for her, the crash meant that her side of the car was completely crushed under the back of the bus, an impact that killed hr instantly.
Song said that he was so distraught about what had happened to his companion that he wanted to kill himself and said that he tried to strangle himself with the cord from his hooded sweatshirt. He also said that he had been traveling at only 33 mph and had skidded, although there were no signs of skid marks on the road nearby. He was only slightly injured and was able to get out of the wreck of his $64,000 Porsche and move around.
When tested for alcohol, he was found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.176 percent, which was over twice the state legal limit. He has been held and charged with DUI and vehicular manslaughter with a $750,000 bond or $500,000 bail. His lawyer has asked that he is put on suicide watch.
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Whatever the result of the charges against Song and however the legal system decides to punish the student for his actions, it won’t bring one young woman back to life or reconcile her family with the fact that their loved one has ended her life at such a tender age with her whole life still ahead of her.
It may seem pointless for any family member to take action against the driver for what may be considered a “wrongful death,” but that is a legal avenue for members of the young woman’s family to take. Wrongful death lawsuits are civil actions and have nothing directly to do with what is happening in a criminal trial, even though the result of the latter may affect the outcome of any civil action.
Wrongful death settlements may be awarded to family members who have suffered emotional and psychological pain and suffering, financial loss and there may be punitive damages awarded if the degree of negligence is regarded as excessive. Lawsuits like this may help to bring a sense of closure to the family in a time of mourning.
As with any personal injury case, it is always the best option to contact an experienced attorney for advice and an opinion about the possibility of legal action against the person to blame for the death.
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Richard S. Jaffe Esq. is such a lawyer and can be contacted for a free consultation at the Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe LLP, 2001 Marcus Avenue, Suite W295, Lake Success, NY 11042. Phone: 516-358-6900 or toll free: 800-483-6149.