A 21-year-old Minneapolis man faces two counts of vehicular homicide after he allegedly smashed his car into a traffic light post while drunk and ran away, leaving his girlfriend to die in the passenger seat.
Friends told police that Michael Laurence Campbell, the owner of both the car and the wallet found at the scene, was "super drunk" when they last saw him but were unaware that he had left his house with girlfriend, 20-year-old Ria Patel, around 3:50 a.m. on Sept. 17, reports the Star Tribune.
But that didn't stop him from hopping in to drive his red Ford Focus, which he crashed near a highway exit ramp, said police.
The impact sent the traffic light hurtling into the passenger side of the car, where it crushed Patel.
One witness said that she heard the crash while heading down the exit ramp and then saw the Focus smashed against the post. She also reportedly saw Campbell fleeing the scene before he ran back to dig through the car. He then allegedly told the witness to call 911 and ran away again when she told him that first responders were on their way.
Despite the emergency medical team's efforts to save Patel, she died at the scene.
When police arrived, they found Campbell's wallet and visited the listed address. They reportedly received confirmation that the suspect had been drinking and driving his car. Officers called his phone and suggested he turn himself in, though he did not. They located him on Sept. 19, took him to the hospital for a checkup and then to the police station and booked him.
Campbell was on probation for a hit-and-run and has a record that includes possession of marijuana in a vehicle, careless driving, failure to stop at a stop sign and five speeding tickets. He reportedly admitted that he had been drinking the night of the collision with the pole and said that he fled from the accident because he was "traumatized by seeing the state" of his girlfriend.
If convicted, he could face up to 10 years per count of vehicular homicide.
Friends and family are mourning the death of Patel, who was a junior at St. Thomas University and was known for her bright and happy personality, notes the school's website.
"She always knew how to light up the room wherever she would go," student Jenny Jirsa said of her friend, according to a piece by St. Thomas. "She brought people together in ways in so many different ways."