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Old June 17th, 2006, 02:02 PM  
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Join Date: March 19, 2004
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Talking 2 kids go off 300 foot high cliff

Police: N.Y. Man Helped Wife Kill Herself
By JIM FITZGERALD, Associated Press Writer
Sat Jun 17, 5:27 AM

STONY POINT, N.Y. - Neighbors described the Hans as a close-knit, loving, church-going family. Authorities painted a darker portrait: A husband who knew his wife wanted to kill herself and helped her carry out her wish.

Victor Han drove his family to a scenic overlook at a state park located 45 miles north of New York City, stepped out of their minivan and let his wife, Hejin, drive over a 300-foot cliff with their two daughters in the back seat, police said.

Hejin Han, 35, died, while her 3- and 5-year-old daughters survived without serious injuries. The girls were treated at a hospital for bumps and bruises and were released to their grandparents.

Victor Han was charged Friday with promoting a suicide attempt and reckless endangerment, both felonies, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor. Appearing in court without an attorney, the 34-year-old architect did not enter a plea.

The most serious charge is reckless endangerment, which carries a maximum prison term of 28 months to seven years on conviction; promoting suicide is punishable by 16 months to four years, and endangering a child carries a maximum one-year sentence.

His bail was set at $75,000 cash or $100,000 bond, court officials said. Han remained in jail Saturday, and a hearing was scheduled for Tuesday.

In the tree-lined Staten Island neighborhood where the family lived, neighbors already saddened by what they had been told was an accident were in disbelief when they learned of the criminal charges.

"I knew Victor very well," said Kim Barbagallo, whose house was designed by Han. "They're a fabulous family."

Barbagallo said the Hans went to church together every Sunday and that the families' children played together.

"If we thought anything was wrong, we would have tried to help," Barbagallo said.

Police who interrogated Han said he drove his wife to Bear Mountain State Park on Wednesday knowing she wanted to commit suicide _ and knowing she had earlier threatened to harm the children.

The Journal News in White Plains reported on its Web site Friday that Han signed a statement for investigators claiming that the family went to the park to take photos after their daughter's preschool graduation. Although he was worried about her state of mind, "I felt she would not kill herself in front of anyone," Han reportedly said.

After Victor Han left the vehicle, his wife moved into the driver's seat, shifted the minivan into gear and drove between two boulders placed along the cliff to keep cars from skidding off, said park police Col. James Warwick.

Victor Han "watched the vehicle go over," Warwick said.

The New York Daily News said Han told investigators he tried to grab the minivan's bumper as it headed for the cliff but could not stop it


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