A 'trailblazer,' crash victim was 'coming into his own'

  • Article by: ANTHONY LONETREE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 24, 2009 - 10:28 PM

Moussa Maayif, 39, yearned for more spiritually and wanted to "give back," his ex-wife says.

Moussa Ould Maayif

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No one knows exactly where he was coming from early Sunday -- perhaps a mosque or the food shelf where he volunteered -- but Moussa Maayif definitely had his life together when it ended so tragically in St. Paul.

A native of Mauritania in northwestern Africa, Maayif, 39, had recently been promoted at Boston Scientific, his ex-wife said Monday, and was studying for an MBA at the University of St. Thomas.

Still, he yearned for more, Shahidah Siraaj said, recalling their last conversation a few weeks ago, "something even more spiritual." He wanted to "give back," she said, and he was doing so by volunteering for a nonprofit group, Building Blocks.

"I think I told him that he was really coming into his own," Siraaj said.

But at 12:15 a.m. Sunday, at University Avenue and Vandalia Street, Maayif was killed -- the victim of a crash so violent that his vehicle went airborne into a utility pole, shearing it at its foundation outside the Dubliner Pub, 2162 University Av.

On Monday, as the driver of the other vehicle, Jacqueline M. Wagner, 20, was charged with criminal vehicular homicide, Siraaj said she wants his story known: "I'd like to put a face to who he is," she said.

Though they divorced in 2007 after three years of marriage, "we were still very much friends," she said.

On Sunday, Wagner, of New Brighton, known as Jacqui to her family, was among several hundred people watching street racing in an industrial area near University Avenue and Transfer Road, police said.

According to the complaint filed Monday in Ramsey County District Court, a police officer arrived at the scene about 12:15 a.m., and in an effort to clear the parking lots, activated his emergency lights. Wagner sped off, the complaint said, and the officer followed, shining a spotlight on her Honda Civic as she drove on Ellis Avenue -- parallel to University Avenue -- at more than 60 miles per hour. At Ellis Avenue and Vandalia Street, about one-third of a mile north of University Avenue, Wagner took a hard left, again at nearly twice the speed limit, and passed other vehicles by driving south in the northbound lanes, the complaint said.

For a moment, after she shifted into the proper lane on Vandalia Street, the officer thought that she might stop. Instead, Wagner allegedly sped up again, ran a red light and then struck Maayif's vehicle, which was headed east on University Avenue.

Wagner was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul for treatment of minor injuries. There, police suspected she might be under the influence of drugs. A blood sample was sent to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis.

Jacqui's father, Paul Wagner, has described his daughter as a "very good kid" who was devastated by what happened.

She is scheduled to make her first court appearance today.

Siraaj said she was at work when she learned that her mother, whom Maayif had listed as a contact, had been called by the medical examiner's office. Then, the ex-wife said, she saw the news images of the shattered utility pole, and the mug shot of the suspect.

Now, Siraaj said, she thinks of his family. Maayif, one of 12 children, was "the trailblazer" who came to America on his own, and who continued to support his family financially, Siraaj said. He was a good man, she said, and she wants to make sure "he doesn't end up like a 'John Doe.'"

Staff writer Allie Shah contributed to this report. Anthony Lonetree • 612-673-4109

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