A day of progress – and justice – in byclists' deaths

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 8, 2013 - 11:21 PM

One hit-run driver sentenced; another sought in last week’s fatal crash turned himself in.

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As a donated “ghost bike” anchored a street-corner memorial, Rachael Kopel, left, John Blue and Andrea Gardner mourned their co-worker, Jessica Hanson.

Photo: Photos by Jerry Holt • jerry.holt@startribune.com,

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Family and friends of Elyse Stern sat in a Minneapolis courtroom Monday, telling a judge how the March night when she was struck and killed by a car while riding her bicycle darkened their days forever. Shortly after the driver was sentenced in that case, another man accused of fatally striking a bicyclist in the city last week was turning himself in to police.

Tips from the community produced the break investigators needed to identify the 24-year-old man who police say is expected to be charged with criminal vehicular homicide in the death of Jessica Hanson.

Police said a hit-and-run driver struck Hanson about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday after going through a stop sign at W. 28th Street and Pleasant Avenue S., above the speed limit with the car lights turned off.

Hanson, 24, a server at an Uptown bar called Republic, died two days later.

Chad Kummrow, Hanson’s cousin, said she donated vital organs that will save five lives, including a man who has waited for a pancreas for a year. Others will receive her lungs, liver, kidneys and heart, “the only great thing to come out of this,” he said.

“It’s a good thing the suspect turned himself in, because you start to wonder if the police will ever find him,” Kummrow said. “Now we don’t have to waste time on these thoughts.”

‘Safety in numbers’

Bicycle crashes declined by 4.5 percent statewide last year, although the number of fatalities rose, from five to seven.

In Minneapolis, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator said Monday that even with more bicyclists on the road, this year’s crash rate compares to previous years.

“There is a safety in numbers,” said coordinator Shaun Murphy. “The more bikers, the more drivers pay attention.”

The city launched a bicycle safety campaign pushing simple messages such as “look for bikes” and “ride predictably.”

News conference

Kummrow, Hanson’s cousin, was among a group of police officials, friends and relatives who held a news conference Monday afternoon at a growing memorial near the crash site.

Candles, flowers, an Atmosphere CD and pictures surrounded a white, painted bike.

Deputy Chief Kris Arneson called Hanson’s death horrible and senseless. She thanked the suspect’s family and acquaintances for pressing him to go to police and the department’s apprehension unit for working around the clock this weekend.

“He knew we were after him,” Arneson said.

He was alone when he turned himself in, police said.

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  • Chad Kummrow cousin of Jessica Hanson talked to the media , about her organ donations to five different people. Members of the police department and the family of 24-year old bicyclist Jessica Hanson, gathered at the site to talked about the arrest of a suspect Monday July 8, 2013 in Minneapolis, MN . Hanson died at 28th and Pleasant after being struck during an hit and run.] JERRY HOLT ‚Ä¢ jerry.holt@startribune.com

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