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Santa Ana nightclub beating victim dies

Friends described Kim Pham, a Huntington Beach resident and an aspiring talk show host, as having a big heart. One person has been arrested, four are being sought.

January 21, 2014|By Adolfo Flores and Anh Do

She was the youngest in a blended family, a psychology grad who discovered she'd really rather write — or talk, the big heart with the sunny personality who picked up causes and friends with a full embrace.

Kim Pham, friends and family agreed, would be the last person in the world to end up the victim of street violence, according to the Los Angeles Times.

But in the predawn hours Saturday, the 23-year-old was so severely beaten in a fight outside a trendy Santa Ana nightclub that she was still unconscious when the police arrived. By Tuesday, she was dead after being taken off life support.

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"She had so much to give back, so much to experience," her uncle, Erik Doan, said. "And it was cut so short."

Santa Ana police have arrested a woman and continue to seek four other people in connection with the violent confrontation, which one friend said may have been triggered when Pham unintentionally walked in front of a camera as another group posed for a photo.

The Chapman University graduate, who aspired to one day host a talk show, hadn't wanted to go out the night she and two friends arrived at the Crosby, a popular restaurant in Santa Ana's historic district that becomes a lounge on weekends.

As they waited in line outside, an argument broke out between Pham's friends and another group. Police had few details but said the two groups did not know each other and that Pham was hit and stomped in the melee. An eight-second video of the incident shows one person kicking at something on the ground as a crowd gathers.

"She wanted to stay in and texted us to come over," said Viviane Dao, who said she'd been one of Pham's closest friends since ninth grade. "But she was convinced to head out.

"She could not hurt anyone," Dao added.

Pham was 5 when her mother died of breast cancer, a loss that drove her to become a cancer awareness advocate, her family said. Whenever she felt lost or confused, they said she would visit her mother's grave, an experience she later shared in an essay, "Beyond the Oversized White Gates."

"Please give me strength," she once wrote in a poem. "But keep my soul humble."

"She had such a big heart. She was always putting herself out there — ready to cheer you up — whenever and wherever you needed it," said Tiffany Bui, who befriended Pham when they attended Marina High School in Huntington Beach.

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