A driver under the influence of drugs and alcohol swerved into oncoming traffic on a well-traveled St. Louis Park street and struck a vehicle coming the other way head-on, leaving the owner of a well-known Hopkins hardware dead in the other vehicle, authorities said Thursday.
The crash Tuesday night on Minnetonka Boulevard killed James Hance, 75, of Brooklyn Park, according to the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office.
Hance was the second-generation owner of Hance Hardware in downtown Hopkins.
“I’ve been working for him since 1985, right out of high school,” said manager Arnold Ohotto. “I can’t believe I’m not crying yet. He’s like a second dad to me.”
Ohotto said Hance was still reporting for work everyday, despite being well past typical retirement age.
The store will be closing at 3 p.m. Saturday for visitation and remain closed Sunday for Easter and all day Monday for funeral services.
The other driver, Jorge Juarez, 20, of St. Louis Park, was not injured. He was arrested and jailed on suspicion of criminal vehicular homicide, driving under the influence and driving after his license had been revoked. Authorities have until noon Friday to charge him.
Police spokesman Jamie Zwilling said police think Juarez was under the influence of both drugs and alcohol.
Juarez was heading east on Minnetonka near Ensign Avenue, crossed the centerline and hit Hance’s vehicle head-on, police said. Emergency responders extricated Hance from the vehicle and took him to Hennepin County Medical Center. He died about three hours later.