By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A jury has returned a verdict on the man accused of drunkenly crashing his car and leaving a 20-year-old woman to die last fall.

Michael Campbell was found guilty on two counts of criminal vehicular homicide in the death of Ria Patel — one citing gross negligence and another leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death.

Patel, of Eden Prairie, was a junior at the University of St. Thomas.

Campbell, Patel’s boyfriend, crashed into a traffic signal at Stinson Boulevard Northeast and Ridgeway Parkway. He told investigators he ran from the scene after being “traumatized” by the sight of Patel’s injuries.

Campbell was on the run for two days before being arrested in Wright County. Several people at his home told police that Campbell was “super drunk” when they saw him less than two hours before the crash.

During court testimony, Campbell admitted that he knew Patel was dead after the crash, but still texted her sister nine hours later asking if she knew where Patel was. Earlier, he had tried to claim that Patel grabbed his face to kiss him while he was driving, and that the crash occurred during that kiss.

“Mr. Campbell was probably drunk, he smashed into a pole going 65 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone and he ran away,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “Then he tried to deflect responsibility for his actions by claiming Ms. Patel was responsible for her own death by kissing him. He also put her family through more distress by pretending that she was still alive.”

Campbell has five driving-related convictions on his record. He was recently on probation for leaving the scene of a hit-and-run in January. He also has convictions for careless driving and having marijuana in his car.

Patel’s family says they’re relieved he can no longer blame their loved one for his actions.

“The last six months have been extremely hard for us as we adjust to a new normal,” Ria’s uncle, Hitesh Patel, said.

Family and friends of Ria Patel embraced after learning the man responsible for her death has been found guilty on three counts of vehicular criminal homicide.

“A new normal, where we are suffering a life sentence,” Hitesh Patel said.

Patel says the family is still dealing with what Campbell said about the 20 year-old.

“He blamed Ria for the accident, he blamed Ria saying she wanted fries, he blamed Ria that she tried to kiss him, and that’s why the accident happened,” Hitesh Patel said.


Family says Campbell never apologized.

Comments (2)
  1. Kevin Enkell says:

    What? He didn’t use the Ted Kennedy Defense?!

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