A 9-year-old boy passed away due to drunk driving that day… The story of the 454 days leading up to the Supreme Court ruling

A 9-year-old boy passed away due to drunk driving that day…  The story of the 454 days leading up to the Supreme Court ruling

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The day of the ‘drunken driving’ accident at Eonbuk Elementary School in Gangnam-gu, Seoul… Supreme Court decision confirmed after 454 days
Sentenced to 7 years in prison in the first trial, 20 years in prison… In the appellate court, the sentence was reduced to 5 years → Supreme Court decision was confirmed.
A memorial post-it message posted after the accident… A nearby business owner shed tears
A father who cried during a public debate… Children’s walkway opened only about 3 months after the accident

Around noon on December 8, 2022, a message that appears to have been written by children was posted on the exterior wall of a building near the scene of a drunk driving accident in the children’s protection zone (school zone) of Eonbuk Elementary School in Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. Reporter Kim Dong-hwan

At approximately 4:57 p.m. on December 2, 2022, when the cold wind was blowing, a third-grade elementary school student was returning home from after-school classes when he was struck by the car of Mr. A, a man in his 30s who was driving while intoxicated, and died. It’s near the back gate of the school I used to go to. Near Eonbuk Elementary School in Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, which would have been filled with children’s laughter on their way to and from school, dozens of memorial messages were posted from students at the same school mourning the child’s death and adults apologizing on behalf of ‘drunk driving.’ Below is the story from that day until the Supreme Court decision was confirmed.

①December 8, 2022

While looking at the accident scene, I noticed a citizen who was crying. He was a self-employed business owner nearby. He looked at the post-it messages and the back door of the school as if he couldn’t believe the accident, but since he was working for a living, he had no time to mourn for a long time and had to rush into the store he runs. It is common to leave a message on a single post-it note. Perhaps because of his anger over the accident, messages written on four pages with the words ‘I’, ‘Ppp’, ‘Beom’, and ‘In!!’ stood out. The message, read with a strong intonation and an exclamation point, was an elementary school student’s anger at having taken his friend’s life.

If you go around the back gate of this school and walk downhill, there are dozens of ‘children’s petitions’ left at the other school gate with the signature box left blank. The text read, ‘Please reveal the truth and severely punish the driver so that our ○○○ children will not be treated unfairly.’ The petition, which was produced separately for ‘residents (for parents)’, included a strong message that ‘Considering the consequences of the accident that took lives that never bloomed, the facts of this case must be revealed more clearly than any other case.’ The day before the interview (December 7, 2022), a petition signed by a total of 2,920 people, including parents and residents, was delivered to the Gangnam Police Station in Seoul.

At the ‘Traffic accidents involving children in school zones, why are they in the same place’ debate held at the National Assembly Hall in Yeouido, Seoul from 10:30 a.m. on February 3 last year, hosted by the office of People’s Power Party lawmaker Tae Young-ho, he drank while leaving school in a children’s protection zone near Eonbuk Elementary School in Gangnam-gu, Seoul. A father is speaking while remembering his son (9 years old at the time of the accident) who died after being hit by a driving car. Reporter Kim Dong-hwan

②February 3, 2023

The father of the deceased child appeared for the first time at a debate titled ‘Traffic accidents involving children in school zones, why are they in the same place’ held at the National Assembly Hall in Yeouido, hosted by the office of People Power Party lawmaker Tae Young-ho, whose constituency is Gangnam-gu, Seoul. About two months after losing his son, the father conveyed the dark reality, saying, “When I think of my son several times a day, I feel longing for him and I have no choice but to cry until the longing subsides.”

He said that his son, who had been with his family for a short period of ‘9 years and 1 month’, had become a ‘star in the sky’, and said, “Considering my son’s usual feelings, I hope that something like this will never happen again to my younger brother, friends, or elementary school students.” “I am confident that it is,” he said. It was said that the life of the deceased child was full of thoughts of people around him.

Rep. Tae emphasized, “A tragic thing happened that should not have happened,” and “(when I looked around the site of Eonbuk Elementary School where the accident occurred), the term itself as a children’s protection zone was meaningless.” He added, “Even though it is a children’s protection zone, there are no pedestrian paths for children.” Voices pointing out such points continued at the scene.

Kang Soo-cheol, head of the Road Traffic Authority, said that if physical separation is impossible, it is important to maintain an appropriate width of the pedestrian path even if the width of the roadway is narrowed, and that if the road width is narrow, there should be a switch to ‘one-way traffic’. Heo Eok, a professor of public administration at Gachon University, also said, “It’s just a road with no sidewalks,” he said, urging, “Even if it’s inconvenient for adults (to drive), we need to (improve the environment).” Attorney Kwon Sun-ho, who communicated with Segye Ilbo several times as the chairman of the Parent Steering Committee of Eonbuk Elementary School, pointed out that the current ‘Road Act’ regulation, which states that sidewalks can be installed and managed if necessary for pedestrian safety and smooth passage of vehicles, is not mandatory and is being revised. raised the need.

On the afternoon of March 13 last year, road signs, including information on child protection zones and one-way traffic, were engraved on the road near the back gate of Eonbuk Elementary School in Gangnam-gu, Seoul. A fence was installed along the school wall to protect sidewalks and pedestrians. Reporter Kim Dong-hwan

③March 13, 2023

Is it because these voices were at least reflected? Four months after the accident, construction to improve the pedestrian environment was carried out on a total of 574m of road in the children’s protection area near Eonbuk Elementary School. Road markings such as children’s protection zone signs and one-way streets were engraved, and a newly laid sidewalk along the school wall was also noticeable. A fence was installed to protect pedestrians, and the scene was very different from the scene after the accident, where vehicles could pass in both directions and there were no sidewalks and several signs with signs such as ‘School zone in front of school’ were placed. If the environment had been like this before the accident, many people would not have had to grieve in the first place.

Around noon on December 8, 2022, a message that appears to have been written by an adult was posted on the exterior wall of a building near the scene of a drunk driving accident in the children’s protection zone (school zone) of Eonbuk Elementary School in Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. Reporter Kim Dong-hwan

④May 31, 2023

The first trial ruling did not come out until nearly six months after the accident. The 24th Criminal Agreement Division of the Seoul Central District Court (Chief Judge Choi Gyeong-seo) sentenced Mr. A to 7 years in prison at the sentencing hearing on charges of death in a child protection zone, death by dangerous driving, death by escape, and drunk driving. It was less than half of the 20-year prison term imposed by the prosecution.

The court ruled that if Mr. A had intended to run away, he would not have parked his car in the residential parking lot near the accident site. It is said that Mr. A’s action to run straight away from the scene of the accident rather than enter the residential parking lot, which is located about 20 meters away and could be discovered quickly, is consistent with his intention to run away. The total time it took for Mr. A to return to the scene of the accident from immediately after ‘reversing’ the victim was 45 seconds, taking into account the time taken to return after parking. It was determined that Mr. A appeared to have returned to the scene in a short period of time.

Regarding the fact that Mr. A did not immediately stop the car at the scene of the accident, it appears that he realized that he had hit a child in the accident, and the possibility cannot be ruled out that he was so embarrassed that he drove to the entrance of the parking lot without stopping the car right away. The court added: Mr. A, who returned to the scene, did not attempt to leave again until he was arrested as a red-handed offender, the Eonbuk Elementary school security officer recorded Mr. A’s personal information, and Mr. A told the police who arrived after receiving the report that he was the assailant. was taken into consideration.

The court said, “There is room to believe that the defendant provided relief more passively than others,” but added, “Based on that, it is difficult to conclude that the defendant did not take any measures to protect the victim.” However, as traffic accidents become more frequent due to the development of modern society, the direction is to punish certain accidents where there is a high level of interest in the act or result, as if it were an ‘intentional crime’ rather than a ‘negligent crime,’ and accidents in children’s protection zones are not included in this. He emphasized that it is included. The formation of social consensus on the need to protect children who are vulnerable to transportation was also mentioned.

The court said, “The victim, who was only 9 years old, tragically ended her life in a sudden accident without being able to fulfill her dreams,” and added, “The family suffered shock and pain that would be difficult to heal for the rest of their lives.” He said that the depth of the family’s despair at seeing their son’s sudden death is immeasurable, and also mentioned that more than anything, the bereaved family wants to be punished. However, he said, “The defendant has no history of receiving any criminal punishment before, and his family and acquaintances are asking for leniency.” He added, “The fact that he was enrolled in comprehensive insurance, deposited 350 million won, and is suffering from cancer are considered favorable factors for the defendant.” “I took it into account,” he added.

The reading of the first trial verdict took nearly 40 minutes.

Both the defense and prosecution appealed.

⑤July 26, 2023

In a statement sent to Segye Ilbo, the bereaved family argued, “It is a lie to say that (the defendant) cannot serve time in prison because of blood cancer.” It was a strong rebuttal to the defendant’s appeal for a reduced sentence due to a chronic illness in the appellate trial, calling it a ‘lie’. At the first trial of the appeals court on this day, Mr. A’s lawyer said, “It is shameless, but The defendant is currently suffering from leukemia and is in a situation like a flurry of light, with no idea what will happen at any time.He said, “I don’t know if he will be able to withstand detention,” and requested that the sentence be determined considering the defendant’s health condition.

The court did not agree with the defense argument that 7 years could become life imprisonment, saying, “It is a bit unfair to reduce the sentence because of poor health.”

At the appeal trial in November of the same year, Mr. A was sentenced to five years in prison.

Mr. A, a man in his 30s, is suspected of hitting and killing an elementary school student in a child protection zone (school zone) while driving drunk. He is being transferred to the prosecution from Gangnam Police Station in Seoul on the morning of December 9, 2022. News 1

⑥February 29, 2024

The five-year prison sentence in the second trial was confirmed by the Supreme Court 454 days after the incident first occurred.

The bereaved family’s position that they could not accept the ruling, saying, “Is it really justice for a person who sent his only son to heaven in front of the back gate of the school for drunk driving in broad daylight to be sentenced to only 5 years?” raised the social issue of ‘sentencing standards’. It also looks like he’s going to throw it.

The reduction of Mr. A’s sentence in the appellate trial is based on the court’s judgment that there is a relationship of ‘imaginary competition’ with respect to the facts of the criminal indictment. Imaginary conflict refers to a case where one criminal act constitutes multiple crimes. This was different from the first trial, which held that the same person had committed several separate crimes (substantial conflict). Article 40 of the Criminal Act stipulates that in such cases, the defendant shall be punished with the penalty prescribed for the most serious crime.

The 7 years in prison in the first trial, where Mr. A was found not guilty of the hit and run, but found guilty on all remaining charges, was reduced to 5 years in prison due to a change in the judgment on handling concurrent criminals, although the judgment of guilt or innocence remained the same.

After the appellate court ruled that manslaughter by dangerous driving and manslaughter by child custody were concurrent, the sentence was determined based on the more serious crime of manslaughter by dangerous driving. If the results of the court’s trial on Mr. A are substituted into the sentencing guidelines for manslaughter by dangerous driving, the recommended sentence is The sentence was 2 to 5 years in prison. Even according to the sentencing guidelines for children’s custody homicide crimes established in April last year after the indictment, the recommended sentence is 2 to 5 years in prison. The punishment for drunk driving is 8 months to 1 year and 4 months in prison.

The appellate court held that Mr. A deposited a deposit to recover damages from the bereaved family in this case, but since the bereaved family expressed their intention to refuse receipt, limited consideration was given to the deposit. In other words, deposit was not considered a significant factor. Although it is a means to recover from damage, it was also mentioned as a case that requires social discussion about the ‘deposit’ that is carried out in a reckless manner for the purpose of reducing the defendant’s sentence.

Reporter Kim Dong-hwan [email protected]

[ⓒ 세계일보 & Segye.com, 무단전재 및 재배포 금지]

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