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21-year-old killed after Uber driver abandons him on California highway, lawsuit says

A 21-year-old athlete was struck and killed after he was left on the side of a busy highway by his Uber driver, according to a California lawsuit.

The man’s parents, who filed the lawsuit, accuse the rideshare company of negligence and wrongful death.

Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.

Fatally struck

Cory Hunter was riding in an Uber with five other passengers on Highway 91 in Corona, which is about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles, at about 2:30 a.m. on May 21, the lawsuit says.

The vehicle pulled onto a shoulder, and Hunter, who had fallen asleep in the car, was woken up by other passengers and told to get out so he could let someone out to vomit, the lawsuit says.

After exiting the vehicle, Hunter did not get back in, according to the lawsuit.

The Uber driver then drove away without Hunter, “essentially leaving a completely disoriented individual on the side of a busy highway, knowingly endangering” Hunter, the lawsuit says.

Just before 3 a.m., Hunter was struck by a vehicle, the lawsuit says.

Hunter was walking in the fast lane when he was struck by a Toyota Corolla, the California Highway Patrol told the Los Angeles Daily News. The driver stopped to help, and she was not investigated for a crime, according to the outlet.

The California Highway Patrol did not immediately respond to a request for information from McClatchy News.

Theida Salazar, an attorney for the Uber driver, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.

Salazar told the Los Angeles Daily News that his client was concerned about Hunter when he learned Hunter hadn’t gotten back into the vehicle after he pulled over.

“Once he got the word (about Hunter’s death), he was floored,” Salazar told the outlet. “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.”

‘Loved by everyone’

Hunter was a “gifted athlete” and football player who was “loved by everyone,” his high school football coach wrote in an Instagram post after his death.

“He brought immense love and laughter into our home, and his legacy will never be forgotten,” coach Greg Johnston wrote. “To live life in a such a positive manner as he did, with love, hard work and the infectious joy he brought everywhere he went, is what everyone that knew Cory should strive for!”

Hunter’s cousin called him a leader who was kind and inspired others, according to a statement shared with McClatchy News by Hunter’s family’s attorney, Peter Corrales.

Hunter’s sister said he was her “reason for being happy,” according to the statement.

“Every time I would see him, everything felt warm and calm,” the statement says. “To know Cory was to love Cory. He was my safe space.”

One of his friends described him in the statement as always having a “positive light” around him.

“He was also so extremely motivated in life and had the most driven mindset I have ever seen,” the statement says. “It made me and many others want to work for greater things in our future.”

He had many achievements, including running a marathon, being able to bench-press 225 pounds, winning a football award and becoming homecoming king, according to the statement.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages of over $25,000.

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