St. Paul teen driver in hit-run says he was lighting a cigarette

  • Article by: Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 12, 2010 - 9:07 PM

A teenager who surrendered to police Sunday for a hit-and-run incident said he was trying to light a cigarette when he hit a 5-year-old boy with his car last week.

The driver is a 17-year-old from St. Paul, said St. Paul police spokesman Sgt. Pete Crum. He presented himself to police about 6:30 p.m. Sunday with his father and an 18-year-old who was a passenger in his car. The driver's name is not being released because he is a minor.

The teen told police he and his friend were leaving work and going to get some food when his car hit Godswill Udoh about 6:20 p.m. Thursday on Marion Street and Thomas Avenue. Udoh, who is autistic, had climbed out of his bedroom window and wandered away while his mother took care of his younger siblings, his parents said.

The driver told police that he panicked and drove home, Crum said. A tip led authorities to his car Friday, and it was impounded, but authorities could not immediately locate anyone associated with it.

Udoh was taken to Regions and then Gillette Children's Hospital in critical condition. His condition improved, and he was released over the weekend. He did not break any bones.

The driver was interviewed Sunday and released to his father. Authorities will investigate the case and submit possible charges to the Ramsey County Attorney's Office. It's unclear whether the 18-year-old passenger could face charges.

CHAO XIONG

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