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Old June 13, 2002, 01:17 PM   #1
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Iowan who wanted to surprise her fiance dies in accidental shooting

Copyright 2002 The Omaha World-Herald Company
Omaha World-Herald

June 12, 2002, Wednesday MIDLANDS EDITION


LENGTH: 643 words

HEADLINE: Iowan who wanted to surprise her fiance dies in accidental shooting

BYLINE: By Julie Anderson


DATELINE: Council Bluffs

A 21-year-old Pella, Iowa, woman died early Tuesday after what was intended as a happy surprise turned to tragedy in her fiance's home on the east edge of Council Bluffs.

Pang Yang was shot about 6:45 p.m. Monday by her fiance, Benjamin Kult, 25, after Yang and her sister Minah Yang, 11, jumped out of a basement closet at 119 Rosebud Lane to surprise Kult, said Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker.

Pang Yang earlier had called Kult at work to tell him she was going home to Pella, Danker said.

After Kult came home, he heard a noise in the basement, picked up his handgun and went to investigate. After the sisters jumped out, the gun went off. Pang Yang was taken to Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha with a head wound. Minah Yang was unharmed.

"It appears it was a very tragic accidental shooting," Danker said.

Pottawattamie County Attorney Rick Crowl said he had not reviewed all the facts in the case, but he didn't think charges would be filed against Kult.

Kult, a 1996 graduate of Lewis Central High School, works full time for Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs. He also works part time as a customer service representative for Commercial Federal Bank in Omaha.

"On behalf of the company, we were very saddened to hear about this tragic event," said Carol Gotch, a bank spokeswoman. "Our thoughts are with Ben and his family as well as the Yang family."

On Sunday, Kult asked Pang Yang to marry him, said the Rev. Mark Pries, pastor at Peace Lutheran Church in Pella.

Yang, a bright, bubbly woman who was studying at Central College in Pella to become a teacher, was visiting Kult for the weekend, Pries said.

"This congregation is just devastated," he said. "She's just beautiful, in and out."

Danker said Yang had gone shopping Monday afternoon. She returned to Kult'sPang Yang

home and called him at work about 3:30 p.m. using a calling card so he couldn't tell from where she placed the call. She moved her car down the street.

Kult came home and sat down to eat. Yang and her sister, hidden in the basement closet, made a noise. Kult picked up his .40-caliber Glock handgun and went downstairs. He noticed the closet door was open. Usually, it was closed.

The sisters jumped out. The gun went off. Kult told the girl to call authorities.

Pries, the pastor, said the shooting death is not the first tragedy in the family. Pang Yang's father, You Lee Yang, who died in the late 1990s, was shot decades ago while escaping from war-torn Laos with a young son.

You Lee Yang met and married Pang Yang's mother, Mai V. Yang, in a refugee camp in Thailand. The couple came to the United States and eventually settled in Pella in the late 1980s.

In the 1990s, one of Pang Yang's brothers was shot and killed as a child in a hunting accident, said Sue Cerwinske, a member of the church.

Kult and Yang made a striking couple at church - he standing over 6 feet tall and she barely 5 feet tall, Cerwinske said.

Yang would stop and give her a hug when she was in her building, Cerwinske said. She also sent people cheerful little notes.

"It's just such a tragic loss for all of us here at Central," Cerwinske said. "She was just such a positive person, did so many things for people."

Yang, who would have been a senior at Central College next fall, was involved in a number of activities, including plays and a local program similar to the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program.

Matt Diehl, Central's head wrestling coach, met Yang through Upward Bound, a college preparatory program. Yang also baby-sat Diehl's two children, who loved her.

"She was awesome," he said. "She was incredibly compassionate to people."

Yang's other survivors include siblings Pao Choua, Yonah, Adam, Chung, Naomi and Ruth Yang.

LOAD-DATE: June 12, 2002

Such a shame..... And you KNOW this one is going to get cited against us......
"That a free citizen should have to go before a committee, hat in hand, and pray for permission to bear arms - fantastic! Arm your daughter, sir, and pay no attention to petty bureaucrats." Robert Heinlein - Red Planet
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