The driver who hit and killed a mother of young twins on a Maple Grove sidewalk last week had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit and an empty vodka bottle in her vehicle, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.
In a search warrant affidavit, Maple Grove police officers said Linda Lee Hamm, 61, of Maple Grove, had watery eyes and slow mannerisms after her SUV struck Ann Blake, 54, as she waited to cross the street near the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes retail area just before noon on Jan. 31.
Police were already following Hamm at the time of the wreck, after receiving a report that her car had been driving erratically near the shopping center. The officer watched helplessly as Hamm drove up onto the concrete median and hit Blake, a recent widow whose twins, one of whom is autistic, are in middle school. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
After striking Blake, Hamm continued to travel east and crossed all lanes of southbound traffic on Hemlock before crossing over the median and striking a northbound vehicle that was waiting for the light to change, pushing it into another vehicle, police said.
According to a search warrant, Hamm told police she didn't know what had happened. On the way to the hospital, ambulance personnel reported an odor of alcohol on Hamm, and a preliminary breath test at the hospital showed her blood alcohol concentration was 0.169 percent. An empty one-liter bottle of Kamchatka Vodka was later found in her SUV.
Maple Grove police say that Hamm's blood test results are pending.
Blake, of Andover, was out shopping and getting some exercise with her sister when she was hit. Her husband, Dan, died late last year after a 10-month battle with cancer.
Family members released a statement Tuesday, after learning about the alcohol tests on Hamm. "This information at least provides closure as to the cause. Nothing can bring Ann back or erase the pain that everyone who was close to her has felt for the last week," the statement said.
"We believe in forgiveness and are now grieving for the driver and her family as well as for Ann," the family added.
According to Maple Grove police, Hamm remained at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale on Tuesday. The incident is under investigation and will be reviewed for possible charges by the Hennepin County attorney's office.
Blake was trained as a surgical technician and worked at a hospital in Minneapolis, but later took a job as a cashier at the Cub Foods in Coon Rapids to be closer to her children. She was active at Grace Lutheran Church, where she helped with Bible school and holiday pageants. She also advocated for children with autism.
Services for Blake were held Saturday. The family and the community are taking care of the children, the family said. Donations can be made to the Blake Children Memorial Fund at www.graceandover.org or at U.S. Bank.
Staff writer Matt McKinney contributed to this report. Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495#