SANTA ANA, Calif. – A speeding driver was convicted today of killing one woman and injuring another after running a red light and crashing into them in a crosswalk, fleeing the scene, and leading police on a high-speed chase. Caroline Sujin Kim, 23, Hacienda Heights, pleaded guilty to one felony count each of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, evading a peace officer while driving recklessly, and hit and run causing permanent injury or death, with a sentencing enhancement for fleeing the scene after committing vehicular manslaughter. She faces a maximum sentence of 13 years and eight months in state prison at her sentencing on Feb. 17, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-57, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
At approximately 8:50 p.m. on Oct. 25, 2013, Kim drove at a high rate of speed on Whittier Boulevard in La Habra. She drove through a red light at the Rigsby Street intersection and crashed her car into two pedestrians, 38-year-old Sandra Cellabos and 43-year-old Michelle M., who were lawfully crossing the street in a marked crosswalk.
The force of the collision projected Cellabos onto the hood and roof of the vehicle before falling into the roadway. She was pronounced dead approximately one hour later due to the injuries she sustained in the crash. Michelle M. sustained minor injuries and was released from the hospital the day after the crash.
After hitting the victims, Kim fled the scene, failing to stop and render aid to either victim. When police officers located the defendant, she led them on a high-speed pursuit at speeds over 80 mph for several miles. Kim drove through multiple red lights while fleeing and was eventually arrested after crashing into a parked car in Hacienda Heights.
Deputy District Attorney Mark Birney of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.
Orange County District Attorney / Case # 14NF0328 / December 29, 2016