Sunday, September 11, 2016



Nearly a year after two high school sweethearts were killed in a freak accident in Hacienda Heights, the driver who authorities say sparked the crash entered a plea of not guilty.

Key Kim, 68, pleaded not guilty to two counts of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. He was charged earlier in the week.

MORE: 2 dead, 2 injured in Hacienda Heights car crash

Authorities say Kim's speeding Lexus lost control while exiting the 60 Freeway at 7th Avenue. The car went airborne and slammed into a Toyota truck, shearing it in half last October.

George A. Steward and his high school sweetheart Sabrina D. Castillo, both 18 and recent graduates of Los Altos High School, were in the truck at the time of the crash. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

It was an emotional day in court, as the teens' parents faced Kim for the very first time.

"To see him and his family, and our kids are not here to live their life like they should, it's just unfair," said Edra Silva, mother of one of the victims.

Cameras were not allowed inside the courtroom. Outside of court, Kim and his attorney expressed their sorrow over what happened.

MORE: Young couple killed in Hacienda Heights crash mourned at vigil

"Mr. Kim is terribly sorry for the tragedy that the Castillos, who are family, has suffered," said defense attorney Louis Shapiro.

Shapiro said Kim's vehicle was defective and accelerated uncontrollably, causing the crash.

"We all want the truth to come out. This is going to be a third-party culpability case, and Toyota and Lexus, we plan on them being brought in and for the right outcome to happen for everybody," Shapiro said.

Toyota has made it clear it is working with investigators. Family members don't believe the car was to blame.

"There was no indication within the data that that's the case. He looks like he might have had some issues with the vehicle, but the report doesn't indicate, really to me, that it was the vehicle's fault," said George Steward, father of George A Steward.

As difficult as the arraignment was, the parents of George and Sabrina are now ready to see justice served.

While Kim did plead not guilty, the judge still required him to post bail at $50,000. The judge also required him to turn in his California driver's license. He is expected to be back in court on Nov. 3.


A man and woman, both 18, were killed and two others were injured in a car crash in Hacienda Heights Sunday night.

The crash happened shortly before 7 p.m. near the State Route 60 off-ramp to 7th Avenue. Authorities said the collision occurred between a white Toyota Tacoma pickup truck and a black Lexus sedan.

The 68-year-old male driver of the Lexus was traveling about 90 mph down the off-ramp when he hit a dip, bottomed out and collided with the concrete median, authorities said.

The impact of the crash caused the black sedan to veer off the freeway, smash the top of the truck's cabin and overturn into a nearby Denny's parking lot.

Sal Corrales had just parked in the lot, only four spots away. His girlfriend called 911, and he ran to see if the man and woman inside the Lexus were alive. Three other witnesses came to help them, so Corrales decided to check on the people in the truck.

"It was disturbing," he said. "That's when I had got up and when I had left to go see the white truck, if anybody was in there. That's when I noticed there was organ tissue on the street, and I just assumed the person who was in that truck was departed."

Authorities closed off the eastbound freeway ramp to investigate the scene. It was unclear for how long the ramp was closed.

The victims have not been identified, but family members were notified.

The driver and his passenger suffered minor injuries and were being treated at Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center.

Authorities do not believe the man was driving under the influence, and the investigation was ongoing.

CORRECTION: California Highway Patrol officials initially said 62-year-old Young A. Kim was behind the wheel of the Lexus, but released details Monday confirming that she was, in fact, a passenger in 68-year-old Key J. Kim's vehicle.