Driver of SUV that killed teen in St. Paul had no license

  • Article by: JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 6, 2012 - 11:40 PM

A 50-year-old St. Paul man was charged with homicide after his vehicle hit two teens as they sat in front of their school.

A St. Paul man with no driver's license was speeding when he lost control of his SUV and barreled off a city street, killing a teen as she sat in the grass waiting for a bus on the city's East Side, according to charges filed Friday.

Carlos Viveros-Colorado, 50, of St. Paul, was charged with criminal vehicular homicide in the death of Clarisse Grime, 16, who died Thursday after being struck in front of Harding High School, about 40 feet from E. 3rd Street. Grime was with her boyfriend, Eduardo Vazquez-Torres, 17, waiting in a shady area for a bus after finishing the day's summer school classes.

Witnesses reported that the driver of a Ford Expedition was speeding east on 3rd Street when the driver lost control, hit a fire hydrant and then drove over a sidewalk and into the grassy area, according to a complaint filed by Ramsey County prosecutors.

Viveros-Colorado has never had a Minnesota driver's license, according to Doug Neville, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety. Public records show that he previously was convicted of drunken driving in 2001, and in April was fined $100 after pleading guilty to driving without a license in Newport.

Viveros-Colorado told police after Thursday's crash that his left leg and right arm had gone numb while he was driving, and that both of his legs went numb before he lost control. He also told police that his foot was stuck on the accelerator.

Knew driving was dangerous?

Officers took Viveros-Colorado to the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center, where he gave them different addresses. His sister, whom he had called after the crash, told police that Viveros-Colorado was an undocumented immigrant who was in the United States illegally, according to the complaint.

His pockets contained a check stub in the name of Luis M. Martinez Rios. He told police that he had the name and Social Security number of another person so he could get paid at work, the complaint says.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have placed a hold on Viveros-Colorado so that if local officials release him, federal authorities will ask that he be given over to federal custody, said Shawn Neudauer, a spokesman for ICE. He is being held on $100,000 bail at the Ramsey County jail.

Through an interpreter, Viveros-Colorado told police that after his legs and left arm went numb, he was trying to avoid hitting a parked car when he swerved and his truck jumped over a curb, hit a sign, went down the hill and hit two kids.

"Viveros-Colorado said the boy jumped out of the way, but the girl didn't. He estimated that he was going 40 miles per hour when his foot got stuck on the accelerator," the complaint says. Other witnesses estimated his speed at 50 to 60 mph.

He told police that he had begun having problems with numbness about three or four months ago, when his legs would go to sleep and feel heavy, as if they were in a cast.

He said he went to the doctor about three months ago but they didn't find anything wrong with him.

The complaint says he also said he knew it was dangerous for him to drive with this condition, but he was hoping to make it home from work.

A broken dream

Charges say that after Grime was run over, a witness ran to a police car in the area and yelled to the officer, "A girl got hit by a car and she is dying!"

The officer drove to the scene and found Grime, of St. Paul, unresponsive and gasping for air. Just before medics arrived, the officer could no longer feel her pulse. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

While Vazquez-Torres jumped out of the way he still was hit on the hip. He was treated at Regions Hospital Thursday and released.

He returned to the school Friday and visited a shrine of flowers, candles and stuffed animals just yards away from where Grime had died. Friends quickly encircled him, giving teary condolences to the St. Paul teenager.

"I don't want to talk about it," he said softly near the shrine, where burning candles filled the sultry air with the scents of vanilla and pomegranate. His aunt, who also was at the scene, said he has been traumatized and that he will be getting grief counseling.

Others said Grime was an upbeat, bright girl who spoke four languages and taught her friends to dance. Born in Ethiopia, she grew up in Italy and immigrated 2 1/2 years ago to the United States.

She was an honor student who was quick-thinking, inquisitive, kind and gentle.

"She was a regular kid but she was incredibly talented," said Yeugeniya Malikin, one of her teachers. "The world has lost a very special person."

Grime was an honest, tactful teen who never hurt anyone, and who was loved by everyone, Malikin said, weeping. She spoke Italian, Amharic, English and Spanish, and Malikin said she loved learning so much that she never stopped asking questions.

In a statement released Friday, Grime's parents, Yoseph Yimam and Martha Woldegiorgis of St. Paul, said Clarisse was an only child who spent much time with her family, and who would cook, sew and decorate with her mother.

They said that Clarisse was in summer school to get additional support as she prepared to take state graduation-required testing. She was talented in many areas, including drawing and painting.

"Harding was like a second home for her," they said. "She came home daily and talked about the great students and teachers at the school."

And, they wrote, "We have always dreamed of living in the United States and living out the American dream of working hard and giving our daughter the same opportunities that other American teenage students have. That dream has now been broken. Our daughter's dream has ended."

"As we say goodbye to our beautiful daughter," they said, "we are asking that justice be done and that the community continue to keep our family in their prayers and thoughts."

Joy Powell • 651-925-5038

MEMORIAL FUND

A memorial fund has been established at Wells Fargo banks. Contributions can be made in the name of Clarisse Grime at any branch.

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