Investigators believe driver intentionally hit students on sidewalk

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KEARNS -- Investigators say the man accused of hitting six students on a Kearns sidewalk Wednesday afternoon did it on purpose.

Deputies arrested Luka Wall Kang, 50, on 10 counts of felony aggravated assault and booked him into the Salt Lake County Jail after he was treated and released from Intermountain Medical Center Wednesday night.

Investigators describe what happened on sidewalk

According to the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office, Kang was heading southbound on 4015 West when he drove onto the sidewalk at 5612 South and ran into the first boy who was listening to headphones at the time.

Lt. Don Hutson of the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office said, "He was actually shoved up by the vehicle, as it's hitting him here, pushed him against the fence and literally scraped along his legs."

Investigators believe driver intentionally hit students on sidewalk

Kang continued along the sidewalk, nearly striking two girls. Apparently they heard the car coming and jumped into a driveway to avoid the car.

Next, Kang made his way onto the street at 5615 South, or Dimrall Dr., where a group was crossing. "Four young boys who were walking across the street and, at this point, essentially simultaneously, he's striking several of these boys," Hutson said.

Witness Cody Campos said, "We heard screaming and honking. I turned around and saw a car that had, like, three kids on the hood."

Hutson added, "He has one of the kids, as he strikes them, up on his hood. He continues to travel southbound along the sidewalk, never actually going back on to the roadway, stays on the sidewalk and continues to hit kids as he travels up the sidewalk."

The end result: six teens hit, one hanging on to the hood for dear life and several others jumping out of the way.

It was a miracle no one was more injured.

–Lt. Don Hutson with the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office

Leonardo Flores was hit by Kang's car. He said Kang never even tried to stop. Flores said, "He was accelerating the farther he went, running people over."

Investigators said Kang continued to accelerate down the sidewalk while a 13-year-old student held onto the hood of the car.

Witnesses said Kang's car eventually hit a retention wall and flipped.

That student was transported to Primary Children's Medical Center and is expected to be OK.

Kang and two other students, who are expected to recover, were transported as well.

Investigators say Kang intentionally hit teens

Hutson said, "Last night after consultation with prosecutors at the district attorney's office, we made a determination that Mr. Kang actually, intentionally went on the sidewalk where the children were and struck at least six and tried to strike four more."

Investigators believe driver intentionally hit students on sidewalk

Investigators say the evidence found at the scene suggested Kang drove for a considerable length of time and distance on the sidewalk without ever braking or attempting to get back on the road.

Lt. Hutson said, "There wasn't any abrupt braking, and there were several witnesses that described accelerating."

Because of that and a number of statements Kang made to investigators, they believe his actions were intentional.

"He did make some statements that lead us to believe he did go that direction and was trying to drive on the sidewalk. As far as specifically targeting children, we don't have statements associated with that, but certainly not a valid explanation as to why he was driving along the sidewalk for a block and a half," Hutson explained.

He said the natural flow of the vehicle should have taken Kang another direction or into a fence. But he said that was not the case because evidence indicates Kang had to make a number of maneuvers with the vehicle to stay on the sidewalk.

Hutson said investigators are waiting on toxicology reports for to see if Kang was on drug. He said, "There were no obvious signs of alcohol, no odor, no obvious display in his behavior that he was using alcohol, but we will obviously check that."

Luka Kang's past

Investigators say they still don't know much about Kang.

They say he recently moved from Arizona, where he had a number of traffic violations, including failure to yield and failure to carry vehicle registration.

Detectives say he was currently living with a roommate in Kearns, he didn't have a job and wasn't going to school.

They said he's originally from the Sudan, and that's probably why they don't have a lot of information available for him.

Hutson said, "Interviews with him suggest that he is very distraught right now and having some difficulties in life, and I think that is obviously a huge factor in this."

Investigators said Kang also made statements to them about being depressed but gave no reason for why he would target the teens.


Story compiled with information from Nicole Gonzales , Shara Park and Andrew Adams.

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