Parents of student killed in ‘Ride the Ducks’ crash say company is trying to block suit

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SEATTLE -- They speak a different language but their pain is universal.

“The accident had a tremendous impact on her body, from her face, to her neck to her ribs,” Haram’s father, Soon Won Kim, said.

Soon Won Kim and his wife, Ju Hee Jeong, from South Korea are overcome by the tremendous grief of losing their 20 year-old daughter Haram Kim in the Aurora Bridge crash last September.

Haram was one of five North Seattle College students killed from the impact after a Ride the Ducks boat slammed into a charter bus carrying the students. A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board determined that a neglected and defective left front axle on the duck boat caused the deadly crash.

“The focus is on equal treatment having equal rights,” said attorney William Schroeder, representing Haram's parents.

Schroeder said Haram's parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Ride the Ducks but the company is fighting to get it thrown out.

“Because my clients live in Korea they shouldn’t be entitled to emotional distress or any wrongful death damages,” Schroeder said.

An attorney for Ride the Ducks told Q13 News that a 100 year-old Washington statute bars the couple from seeking the wrongful death lawsuit because they were not financially dependent on their daughter and don't live in the United States.

“To have this tragedy compounded by a law, on its face, is just unfair for some people simply because where they live,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder says the Washington Attorney General’s Office has sided with Ride the Ducks on the issue but he says the old statute is unconstitutional and they plan to fight it in court in September.

Ride the Ducks says even if the court throws out the wrongful death lawsuit, the family will have other legal remedies to receive compensation. That is no consolation to Haram’s parents.

“We hope that no other family has to experience this again and we hope that we can make this positive change,” Schroeder said.

But no matter what happens, they can never get Haram back.

“We have three daughters; she was the oldest, she’s never once fought her sisters,” Ju Hee said.

A daughter who they say had a heart of gold, a passion to help others. Even with her passing she did just that, donating her organs to 10 strangers in the U.S.

Now nine months since the deadly crash, Haram’s parents say not one person from Ride the Ducks or North Seattle College have directly apologized to them.

They have also incurred travel expenses and to this day the insurance company for Ride the Ducks has not given the family a penny.

The college released this statement to Q13 News on Thursday.

“In the days, weeks and months since the Ride the Duck’s accident the college has communicated to the families of the deceased, and the injured students and college employees, either through one-on-one meetings, through outreach to the Embassies, consulates and/or their legal representation. 

"We continue to express heartfelt condolences for the families and all of those who are working to recover from this tragedy. Unfortunately, due to pending litigation, we cannot comment further.”