Reporting Esme Murphy
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The man accused in a hit-and-run accident that killed a 24-year-old bicyclist is now charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide.
Abdirahman Abdi Ali, 24, turned himself in and was arrested in connection with Jessica Hanson’s July 3 death. Officers responded to the scene of the hit-and-run at the intersection of West 28th Street and Pleasant Avenue South and found Hanson severely injured.
Witnesses told officers the vehicle that hit Hanson failed to stop at the stop sign and struck Hanson, who was on her bicycle. According to the charges, witnesses say Ali did not have his headlights on and was traveling at a high rate of speed. His license had also been canceled.
Police say Ali fled the scene, continuing to travel north on Pleasant Avenue.
Thanks to a sharp-eyed witness, police were able to investigate the hit-and-run with the full license plate of the suspect vehicle.
Investigators tracked the vehicle to an apartment in Minneapolis where a woman told police it was her brother’s car. Officers found the vehicle nearby and noticed it had several dents, a missing window and a missing rear-view mirror. The vehicle also appeared to be freshly washed and vacuumed.
A rear-view mirror matching the color of the vehicle had been recovered from the accident scene on July 3, according to the charges.
Around 7:30 p.m. on July 5, Ali called police and admitted to hitting a person while driving on Pleasant Avenue. According to the charges, Ali told police someone was shooting at his car, so he took off and didn’t know what or who he hit.
If convicted, each count of criminal vehicular homicide carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and or $20,000 in fines.
Hanson died from her injuries at 10:21 a.m. on July 5.
Hanson’s boyfriend Justin Berkman was emotional at the scene on Monday. On Tuesday, he said in reaction to the charges, “We just want to keep her memory alive. No penalty will ever be enough.”
Her co-workers at the Republic restaurant, where she was a server, agree.
“She is missed by everyone. We are absolutely happy that he was caught and charged, but it does not bring her back,” Jacqueline Cukrowski said.
Ali has a criminal history that includes a charge of carrying a firearm without a permit.
Hanson is from the tiny town of Hoffman, Minnesota. There will be a wake there for her on Wednesday. Her funeral is Thursday.