Driver gets more than 5 years in death of Harding High School teen

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 18, 2012 - 12:15 AM

He apologizes, gets more than five years in prison.

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Sergio Ramirez put his head on the shoulder of his teacher Yeugeniya Malikin as they stood with Isaias Contreras, and Axel Martinez at a memorial set up for Clarisse Grime at the spot where she was hit and killed at Harding High School this summer.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

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An unlicensed driver who lost control of his car this summer, crashing over multiple curbs and plowing into a high school student in St. Paul, was sentenced Monday to more than five years in prison.

Carlos Viveros-Colorado received 51 months on a conviction of criminal vehicular homicide and one year for misdemeanor criminal vehicular operation for the July 5 crash that killed Clarisse Grime and injured her boyfriend, 17-year-old Eduardo Torres. The sentences will run consecutively.

Grime's mother, Martha Woldegiorgis, was emotional as she told the court that Grime was her only child. Several family members and friends wept. "I lost everything," Woldegiorgis said. "She is always in my mind."

Grime was a well-liked 16-year-old student at Harding High School. She was bright and quick to pick up languages, her uncle wrote in a letter to the court. Grime spoke four languages. She was born in Ethiopia, grew up in Italy and immigrated to the United States about 2 1/2 years before she was killed.

Viveros-Colorado was leaving his job at a south-metro bakery when he experienced some numbness in his leg on Hwy. 61 near Interstate 494 but ignored it.

As he headed east on 3rd Street in his Ford Expedition toward his Hazel Street apartment, Viveros-Colorado lost his ability to brake, then stepped on the accelerator. He reached speeds of more than 40 miles per hour, crashing over multiple curbs, shearing off a fire hydrant and damaging a street sign before he struck and killed Grime and injured Torres, who were waiting in a grassy area for a bus after school.

Woldegiorgis told the court that her daughter had spent the previous day with Torres' family celebrating July 4th. Grime had waited up for her mother to come home from work, and regaled her with stories about her "beautiful and interesting" day. Woldegiorgis said she told her daughter to save the rest of her story for the next day, July 5. She never heard the rest.

"I have nothing," Woldegiorgis said.

"I have to disagree with one thing," Ramsey County District Court Judge John Van de North said when Woldegiorgis finished. "You are always the mother of this beautiful child. Nothing can take that from you."

Given his chance to speak, a jumpsuit-clad Viveros-Colorado stood up and looked out at Woldegiorgis.

"I would like to say I'm sorry," he said through heavy tears. "I would give my life to bring back your daughter."

Van de North told Viveros-Colorado he had multiple chances to stop driving when he experienced the numbness in his limbs, and that shirking that responsibility caused the crash.

Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708 Twitter: @ChaoStrib

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