A St. Paul man allegedly smashed a car window in with his head and drove off with the vehicle, crashing into two teenagers and wrecking the car in a fiery crash, according to charges.
Steven D. Ross, 48, was charged in Hennepin County District Court with one count each of criminal vehicular operation causing great bodily harm, criminal vehicular operation causing substantial bodily harm and simple robbery.
One of the teens he hit Monday, Cecilia Speranzella, 19, remained in critical condition Wednesday at Hennepin County Medical Center. Her brother, Jacob, 14, was in serious condition Wednesday.
Cecilia Speranzella was launched up to 15 feet into the air, struck a window frame of the Panaderia San Miguel bakery at E. Lake Street and S. 17th Avenue and fell onto the sidewalk, according to the charges.
Jacob Speranzella, 14, was launched about 15 feet into the air through the bakery’s glass window and landed inside the building.
Ross sped eastbound on Lake Street, nearly running over Cecilia Speranzella, who was unconscious, the charges said.
“The Defendant stated that he had used ‘crack’ and marijuana and that he had consumed alcohol that day,” the complaint said.
According to the criminal complaint:
A 37-year-old man told police that he was sitting in his parked Toyota RAV4 about 2:15 p.m. near E. 26th Street and S. 17th Avenue when Ross approached his vehicle acting strangely.
“The Defendant used his head to break through the driver’s side window of the RAV4 and he climbed into the vehicle as the occupants exited in fear.” The car owner tried to take the car keys, but Ross took them and drove off, crashing into parked cars. Ross was speeding south on S. 17th Avenue when he apparently tried to turn right onto E. Lake St. He drove through a red light and struck the Speranzella siblings, who were in the crosswalk.
Their father had posted on social media that the siblings were going to get ice cream at the time.
Cecilia Speranzella suffered a brain injury that required surgery to relieve pressure on her brain due to internal bleeding, the charges said. Jacob Speranzella suffered several broken bones and cuts.
The crash was captured on surveillance video.
Ross continued to flee in the vehicle, allegedly ramming the front of a police squad car as he fled down Lake Street.
He crashed into a light pole near E. Lake Street and S. 20th Avenue, causing the vehicle’s engine to burst into flames.
“Officers removed the Defendant from the vehicle,” the complaint said. “As they did so, the Defendant continued to press the accelerator despite the fact that the vehicle was disabled.”
Ross allegedly told police after his arrest that he had abused substances that day, and confessed to the carjacking. He allegedly said he had tried to avoid striking the teenagers.
Toxicology tests are pending.
Ross remains hospitalized in police custody for treatment of his injuries, which authorities have described as minor.
Police previously said that a person inside the bakery was also injured, and that another person was hurt but declined medical help.
Ross’ criminal history includes convictions in Hennepin County for illicit drug possession and disorderly conduct involving a hammer-wielding outburst on a Metro Transit bus. He is on probation until 2022.
He was convicted of felony assault in 2014 for beating a man bloody in St. Paul after the two left a bar. A prison term of five years was stayed in that case, and he served three days in the workhouse and was put on probation for five years until March 2020.
His first court appearance is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.