Macalester College exchange student is hit by SUV in St. Paul, critically injured

  • Article by: NICOLE NORFLEET , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 31, 2012 - 11:38 PM
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The Macalester exchange student was hit a little after 5 p.m. Wednesday at Hamline and Grand Avenues in St. Paul. Police said the driver was cooperating.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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Less than 24 hours after she arrived in Minnesota, a French exchange student who planned to study this semester at Macalester College in St. Paul was severely injured Wednesday when she was hit by an SUV while walking on Grand Avenue.

Cleo Louise Marie Thiberge, 19, remained hospitalized in critical condition Friday night. She was hit a little after 5 p.m. Wednesday when she tried to cross Hamline Avenue at Grand, said St. Paul police spokesman Howie Padilla.

The vehicle had been traveling east on Grand and was making a turn south onto Hamline when it struck Thiberge, he said. It appeared that she was "in or near the crosswalk" at the time of the accident, Padilla said.

According to the incident report, Thiberge was pinned underneath the vehicle.

Tami Ellis was finishing a meal at an outdoor table of the Twisted Fork Grille with her boyfriend when she saw Thiberge waiting at the crosswalk for the walk signal, then step off the curb.

"The next thing I remember, I saw her shoe fly in the air," Ellis said.

The SUV that hit her stopped, but one of its back wheels was still on Thiberge, Ellis said. Ellis and her boyfriend told the driver to back up, then called 911.

Thiberge was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul with severe injuries.

The driver of the vehicle is cooperating with police, Padilla said. She wasn't arrested.

Thiberge is visiting Macalester on an exchange program and enrolled for the fall semester, said Barbara Laskin, a college spokeswoman. In an e-mail to students, Jim Hoppe, dean of students, said her parents traveled from France to be with her. "We hope you will join us in keeping Cleo and her family in your thoughts and prayers at this time," he wrote.

Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495 Twitter: @stribnorfleet

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