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Diamond Bar Toddler Killed in Pedestrian versus SUV Accident


Three-year-old Michelle Kwon has died due to critical injuries she suffered in a Diamond Bar pedestrian versus sport utility vehicle accident. The fatal pedestrian accident occurred outside an elementary school on November 26, 2008. According to this news report in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Michelle, her 5-year-old sister and father, Soonil Kwon, were struck by an out-of-control Nissan Pathfinder as they were walking on the sidewalk in front of Maple Hill Elementary School in Diamond Bar.

The 68-year-old driver of the SUV has not been cited or arrested pending a police investigation by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Soonil Kwon and his older daughter are still in the hospital with serious injuries. Police say the driver of the Pathfinder was either picking up or dropping off someone at the school when the 11/26/08 fatal accident occurred. He apparently voluntarily submitted to a blood-alcohol test immediately after the crash.

I offer my deepest condolences to the family of little Michelle Kwon. Imagine a family losing its young child on Thanksgiving Day. Heartbreaking! Please pray for Michelle’s family, especially her 5-year-old sister, her father and the immediate family that is dealing with this unimaginable tragedy. I wish Soonil Kwon and his daughter the best for a quick and complete recovery.

Going by the photos of the accident scene, something must have gone horribly wrong either with the driver of the Pathfinder or his SUV. The SUV apparently went off the roadway on to the sidewalk, struck the father and his two children and went up an embankment on the side of the road. I trust Los Angeles Sheriff’s traffic investigators are looking into what caused the driver of the SUV to lose control of the vehicle. Was there a mechanical malfunction in the Pathfinder? Was the driver distracted? Was he talking on the cell phone? Or was he operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs?

Soonil Kwon, his older daughter and little Michelle cannot be faulted in this incident. They were walking right where they should have been walking – on the sidewalk. Clearly, this is the SUV driver’s error. If he is determined to have been under the influence at the time of this horrific crash, there is no question in my mind that he will face at least criminal vehicular manslaughter charges in this case. If this was caused by a product defect in the SUV then the auto maker could be held liable. However, my suspicion is that this was a driver error. If he is determined to have been responsible, he should be held civilly and criminally liable.

It would be in the best interest of the Kwon family to at least consult with a reputed Southern California personal injury law firm, which has extensive experience dealing with pedestrian accident cases. A skilled California pedestrian accident attorney will help this family secure the justice and compensation they rightfully deserve.

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