MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota State Patrol is looking for a driver who hit and killed a man filling his gas tank on the side of Interstate 94 Tuesday night.
Officers said the person who hit the man just kept on driving.
It happened around 11 p.m. on the I-94 westbound off-ramp to Riverside Avenue in Minneapolis.
The State Patrol said 38-year-old Anousone Phanthavong of Roseville was filling his car with gas on the off-ramp when he was hit by a vehicle.
Phanthavong, known as “Phet” to his friends and co-workers, died from his injuries. He was a head chef at True Thai Restaurant in Minneapolis, where he had worked for eight years. His boss, Chuck Whitney, said Phet was a nice person and an incredible worker.
Whitney said Phet was driving to the restaurant Tuesday night to pick up gas money that he had left for him under a rock behind the restaurant.
“We left it there for him. The $20 was still there in the morning. Evidently he got as far as the Riverside exit and ran out of gas. He ran to the gas station to get a little more to make it here, but he didn’t make it,” Whitney said.
He said Phet was an excellent chef who recently cooked for the rock band U2 as part of their catering service.
“Boy we are going to miss him because he was a big part of this restaurant and a big part of everybody here. I have one employee who works one day a week. When he found out that Phet had passed away he broke down like you wouldn’t believe. That’s how much he was liked,” Whitney said.
Police said based on evidence at the scene, including a broken fog lamp that was found nearby, preliminary findings suggest that the suspect vehicle was a 2007-2011 Mercedes ML 320, ML 350, ML 500, or ML 63. They do know that it will have serious front-end damage.
“The likelihood of catching (the suspect) goes up with that evidence and those witnesses, should they come forward,” said Minnesota State Patrol’s Lt. Eric Roeske.
Roeske said the tragedy also illustrates the danger of being on a freeway or ramp when a car breaks down or runs out of gas.
He said motorists should always try to get off the freeway if they encounter trouble and always try to keep plenty of gas in the tank.
NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Steve Murphy Reports