The hit-and-run driver who killed a cyclist early Saturday on E. Lake Street was spotted minutes later by police as he drove north on Bloomington Avenue S., according to charges filed Tuesday. His car’s front end was heavily damaged and its windshield smashed.
Officers pulled over Juan Ricardo Hernandez-Campoceco, 27, and found him intoxicated, the complaint says. Asked about his car’s condition, he blurted, “I’m not going to lie to you; I hit a person.”
The Hennepin County attorney’s office charged him with felony hit-and-run and fourth-degree driving while impaired, a misdemeanor. Hernandez-Campoceco, who is in Hennepin County jail, is to appear in court Wednesday afternoon.
Hennepin County Deputy Attorney David C. Brown said a more serious charge of criminal vehicular operation was not filed because the state felt it could not prove that his driving conduct caused the collision. “We have evidence ... that, in fact, the bicyclist turned in front of this driver and the driver was going through a green light,” he said.
According to the complaint, a driver told police that cyclist Elyse Stern was waiting at the traffic light at Lake Street and Cedar Avenue S. at 2:15 a.m. Saturday when the light turned green. The witness turned right onto Cedar Avenue and saw Stern turn left to head north. He heard a collision and turned his vehicle around. Stern was lying west of the intersection, a pool of blood around her head. She was not breathing.
Investigators could not immediately interview Hernandez-Campoceco because he became unconscious after his arrest. Two men who had been in his car said they had been at El Nuevo Rodeo that night and left at 2 a.m. They were westbound on Lake when the car hit Stern’s bike. One said the driver said he’d hit a cyclist but that it wasn’t his fault because the light had been green.
Hernandez-Campoceco told police he knew he’d hit someone but kept going because his friends told him to.