MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Vehicular homicide charges will not be filed against the driver accused in the hit-and-run death of a Minneapolis bicyclist early Saturday morning.
Even though the 27-year-old driver appeared intoxicated, prosecutors say he was proceeding through the intersection with a green light.
The collision killed 28-year-old Elyse Mary Stern as she was riding her bike home. Tuesday’s charges against the driver shed new light on why he didn’t stop and offer help.
Also on Tuesday, friends and co-workers of Stern found words hard to come by.
Stern’s sewing machine at the downtown sewing studio where she worked was silent, and the mood was dark.
“Anytime something like this happens it’s really rough,” said Andy Larson, the owner of the sewing studio.
He says Stern was a gifted young woman with a diverse set of talents. She was an avid gardener, a puppeteer, a musician, and a successful seamstress.
“She seemed like she could visualize things really easily,” Larson said. “You have to have a really great imagination to be able to do things like that.”
A flowered memorial now marks the intersection at East Lake Street and Cedar Avenue South where Stern was struck and killed. She turned into the path of an oncoming car and was thrown some 70 feet from the intersection. She died at the scene.
The driver who struck her never stopped, but Juan Ricardo Hernandez-Campoceco was caught by Minneapolis police shortly after they spotted a car with a shattered windshield and severe front end damage.
However, Deputy Hennepin County Attorney David Brown said that, at this point, there’s insufficient evidence that Hernandez-Campoceco’s driving conduct caused Stern’s death.
What the attorney’s office will try to prove is that Hernandez-Campoceco was intoxicated at the time of the incident. He told police he had six beers at a local bar.
Hernandez-Campoceco was formally charged Tuesday with a felony hit-and-run charge and with driving under the influence.
Hernandez-Campoceco blames his two passengers for telling him to leave the scene.
Meanwhile, Stern’s friends said this is a time to honor her memory, not to dwell on the actions that claimed her life.
“People are just really grieving and honoring Elyse. It’s less about anger and more about sadness,” said Carly Schoen, one of Stern’s co-workers.
A visitation for Stern will be held between 3 and 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Bradshaw Funeral Home at 3131 Minnehaha Avenue South. A memorial service will follow starting at 6 p.m.