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    Norco family whose son was killed on 91 Freeway sues Uber, saying driver left him there
    • July 12, 2023

    The family of a Corona man who was hit by a car and killed says he was left behind on the 91 Freeway when his Uber ride pulled over to let out another passenger who had to throw up. Now the family is suing the ride-hailing company, alleging the driver’s negligence led to his death.

    The crash that killed 21-year-old Cory Hunter occurred just before 3 a.m. on Sunday, May 21. At the time, the California Highway Patrol only identified Hunter as a pedestrian who somehow had made it to the fast lane of the 91 near the Serfas Club Drive exit in Norco.

    Hunter died at the scene after an oncoming Toyota Corolla hit him, the CHP said. But his family said the CHP report left out that Hunter was only on the freeway after his ride left without him.

    “They said that he was just walking on the freeway,” said his mother, Rhonda Hunter, of Norco. “He could have been homeless. He could have been a guy on drugs. My son never did drugs.

    “People thought maybe he committed suicide,” she said. “He did not — he was left there.”

    According to Hunter’s family, their attorney and the attorney of the Uber driver, the group of five friends were out drinking the night before in Downtown Fullerton when they agreed to take an Uber ride home. They piled into the van that arrived for them and were headed back to Riverside County when one of them said he was sick.

    The driver pulled over to the right-hand shoulder some distance away from the Serfas Drive exit. Hunter was seated in the van’s middle row; he got out to allow the sickened passenger to exit. Within seconds, the rest of the passengers also got out.

    The friends who were with Hunter and the driver, according to their attorneys and the lawsuit, all agreed that somehow in the minutes after they pulled over, Hunter disappeared.

    His friends called out for him repeatedly, but they heard nothing, said Peter Corrales, the family’s attorney. A short time later, they got back in the van and left.

    “There’s only three ways he could have gone,” Corrales said. “Forward toward the (Serfas Club Drive) exit, backwards down the shoulder, or across the freeway.

    “Maybe nobody saw him leave. Everyone said they could not find him. But they never heard anything — no screeching tires, nothing like that. It’s still a mystery where he went and why they would leave him there.”

    According to court documents, one of the friends there that night said the Uber driver started driving away, but eventually looped back on the 91 to continue looking for Hunter. They still could not find him.

    It’s still not clear how Hunter ended up in the fast lane. The Corolla driver who hit him stopped and attempted to help, calling 911, according to the CHP. She is not being investigated for a crime.

    Rhonda Hunter and her two other children question how the ride-share driver could have left with one of his passengers still likely somewhere on the freeway. Uber did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit or to questions about what training its drivers receive to handle emergency situations.

    Theida Salazar, an attorney for the Uber driver, said his client was concerned when he and Hunter’s friends could not find him after pulling over.

    “Once he got the word (about Hunter’s death), he was floored,” Salazar said. “My client is a compassionate person: He’s a father, he’s a brother. He’s someone that is very conscientious when it comes to the welfare of others.”

    CHP did not respond to a request for comment.

    The lawsuit, filed June 3, demands compensatory damages for Hunter’s death from Uber, the driver and the woman who hit him. Rhonda Hunter also said she wanted to see Uber change its policies to ensure something like this never happens again.

    “He was doing the right thing,” Rhonda Hunter said of her son. “He was doing what he was supposed to do, and he got left on the freeway. Nobody even called police … he was with five of his really, really good friends. It’s just a hard situation to even grasp.”

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    ​ Orange County Register