Hit-run: 6 driving offenses, no license, St. Paul boy still critical

  • Article by: ANTHONY LONETREE and CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: May 21, 2012 - 11:09 PM

Tyrell Baymon, 4, has not woken since the motorcycle crash.

Ernest Travis Jonas
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Ernest Travis Jonas

Ernest T. Jonas had no driver's license for his motorcycle but six recent citations for driving offenses when he allegedly struck and critically injured a boy in St. Paul.

He was charged on Monday with two counts of criminal vehicular operation.

Authorities say Jonas popped a wheelie on a blue "crotch rocket" sports cycle before he hit Tyrell Baymon on Saturday afternoon -- fracturing the child's skull on his fourth birthday -- and then continued down a Frogtown street.

Jonas, 25, looked back but refused to stop because he feared a group of men who ran at him, yelling, he later told police.

Tyrell left the scene gurgling and gasping in his mother's arms, and remained hospitalized in critical condition on Monday.

"Just the fact that they got him off the streets did a lot of good for us, to know no other innocents would be hurt," said Tyrell's uncle, Dennis Scroggins. "All I can do is thank the Creator for the outpouring of support we've had from the community."

Charges filed in Ramsey County District Court allege that Jonas, whose family lives on the East Side, ditched the motorcycle in a friend's garage about 1 1/2 miles from the scene. Police learned he had a female friend in the area and later contacted Jonas by phone. He was arrested about 5 p.m. Sunday at a motel in Shakopee.

St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith credited community members for calling in tips.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to Tyrell," Smith said.

Scroggins said Tyrell has not woken since the crash because of heavy sedation. He is in intensive care and will likely remain sedated for a few more days, Scroggins said. Tyrell had his rib cage repaired on Saturday and a hole in his skull repaired on Sunday.

"He's not good," Scroggins said. "His ribs were hurt pretty badly and were sticking out of his body."

Tyrell's lungs were bruised, Scroggins said, and he might have other broken bones. There did not appear to be any hemorrhaging or blood clots in the brain, he added.

Multiple citations

According to court records, Jonas was cited on six occasions between March and December 2011 for driving-related offenses that included speeding, failing to drive with due care and driving with a revoked or invalid license.

Earlier this month, he was sentenced in Hennepin County District Court to one year of probation for a December violation -- the third time he had been cited for driving without a valid license. He also was cited in May 2011 for driving a motorcycle without being properly licensed or insured.

Saturday's incident appeared to be the first time he's been charged in connection with a crash.

"Not only did this man display a blatant disregard for pedestrian safety in our neighborhood, he fled the scene, leaving a child fighting for his life," County Attorney John Choi said in a statement.

Popping wheelies

Tyrell's mother, Marcia Scroggins, told police that she was holding her son's hand, walking him to her truck in the 400 block of Lafond Avenue, when he was struck about 1 p.m. Saturday. His shoes flew off at impact, the charges say, and he landed under another vehicle in front of her.

Witnesses reported seeing Jonas driving recklessly earlier. He popped multiple wheelies while driving very fast on Lafond Avenue, the complaint states.

Jonas told police the crash occurred following a single wheelie that came about when he hit the gas at a stop sign -- prompting the front end to pop up. When the bike came back down, he said, he saw a woman standing at the back of a vehicle. He said he didn't see Tyrell until it was too late.

Police said he may have been traveling as fast as 60 miles per hour. Jonas said the motorcycle was in first gear and that he was going 35 to 40 mph.

Jonas, who makes his first court appearance on Tuesday, is being held in the county jail in lieu of $75,000 bail.

alonetree@startribune.com • 612-875-0041 cxiong@startribune.com • 612-270-4708

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Ernest Travis Jonas