Puyallup chef fighting for life after being covered ‘head to toe’ in boiling oil from car crash – KIRO 7 News Seattle

PUYALLUP, Wash. – A Puyallup worker who suffered grease burns after a vehicle crashed into the restaurant is fighting for his life.

On Tuesday, November 28, a vehicle crashed into Don’s Drive-In on South Meridian around 1:30 p.m.

A 64-year-old Bonney Lake man was injured in the crash, police said. He was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and vehicular assault. At last check, he was being held in the Pierce County Jail.

Puyallup police said a 48-year-old Federal Way man suffered life-threatening injuries after the crash caused the fryer to overturn, spilling grease on the employee.

The restaurant, a community staple, has been open on S. Meridian for nearly two decades.

KIRO 7 News contacted the Puyallup Police Department.

A spokesman said there was no update on the investigation.

JIHO YOON:

KIRO 7 News spoke with Andrew Peterson on Friday, who said his two daughters work at the restaurant.

The car crashed into the side of the restaurant where workers take customers’ orders, he explained.

And his two daughters often work there.

“This is crazy. Right in the middle of the day. There was music. There were customers here,” he said.

Peterson explained to KIRO 7 News how the crash injured Jiho Yoon, a co-worker of his daughters, who is currently fighting for his life.

He said the large fryer pinned Jiho to the wall as the grease spilled over him.

“There’s nothing that compares, except maybe napalm, to being covered head to toe in hot frying oil,” he said.

“We know his mom and dad visit him every day in the hospital,” Peterson added.

Jiho has burns on his body, part of his face, arms and legs, he told KIRO 7 News.

Peterson told KIRO 7 News that Jiho Yoon was more than a colleague to his daughters.

“He treated them like family,” he shared.

“He would make them smile,” he said. “He was dressing up for Halloween. Almost anything they wanted to do; he would do it for them to make it a great environment. It’s really a family environment down here.”

KIRO 7 News spoke with Gina Burkhammer, the property’s owner, who said she has been in contact with the restaurant’s owner, who is supporting Jiho and his family in the hospital.

“She (the restaurant owner) travels daily to pick up Jiho’s parents and drive them to Harborview to spend the hours with him every day and make sure he’s okay,” she said.

She said Jiho underwent his first surgery on Thursday.

“They actually had to delay the skin grafting surgery for a few days because the burns had to essentially burn away. So he had to deal with the pain of the burns that continued to burn. She added: “I can’t even fathom the amount of pain she’s in and that’s all that keeps playing in my mind.”

Berkhammer said the crash damaged the restaurant’s equipment, wall, roof, food and supplies, as well as electrical wiring.

The cafe next door is also temporarily closed, she added, due to a power outage.

She said the total estimated damage was at least $150,000.

“It’s disappointing to know that someone’s bad decisions have caused so much devastation.” Berkhammer added, “This man (suspect) just changed not only Jiho’s life, but many lives forever. And it’s really upsetting.”

Colleagues of Jiho Yoon have set up a GoFundMe to help him while he is currently being treated in the hospital.

The GoFundMe reads:

“Behind the wall was Jiho, 48, manning the fryer where he has been a regular and dedicated employee for years, cooking and even creating popular new menu items, helping the owner, helping new employees with training and cooking all the great food, with which Don is known for, Jiho drove almost every day from his home on Federal Way and did a fantastic job every time. Always cooking and frying with a smile, when long-time customers asked for his name, he would point to himself and say “Brad Pitt!” with a big smile. Jiho’s excellent attitude, strong work ethic, and upbeat mood were permanently disrupted by the accident on November 28, when the sedan drove through the wall, causing hot oil from a deep fryer to cover his face and body.”

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