The mother of three small children run over by an SUV during a high-speed chase in north Minneapolis said Thursday that she is grateful for strangers who started an online fundraising campaign to help the family with medical costs and other expenses associated with the crash.
Nicolle Peltier expressed thanks hours before the first court appearance for the driver who hit the children as they played on a park playground near Jenny Lind Elementary School Monday morning. The driver, Kabaar W. Powell, 27, of Richfield, faces charges of fleeing police resulting in great bodily harm, criminal vehicular operation and carrying a gun in public without a permit.
Troopers in two State Patrol squad cars chased Powell's SUV after spotting him speeding on Interstate 94. He fled at high speed onto residential streets in far north Minneapolis and kept going until he struck the children as they played basketball.
Kayden Peltier, 2, and Lillianna Peltier, 4, were severely injured and were being treated at North Memorial Medical Center, while Konnor Peltier, 3, was less seriously hurt. Kyle Peltier, their father, was there along with the couple's four other children. The family recently moved to north Minneapolis.
"My seven children and husband were the only ones in the park at the time of the incident," Nicolle Peltier told the Star Tribune. "I was in St. Paul at St. Paul College" taking a test at the time.
At a brief hearing Thursday afternoon, Hennepin County District Judge Shereen Askalani set Powell's bail at $500,000 without conditions or $200,000 with conditions.
Meanwhile, Tory Schalkle, of Wayzata, said he helped start the online fundraising campaign "because I couldn't be anything but heartbroken by their story and want to help. This family went from the innocence and joy of a playground to the pain and uncertainty of the ER within mere minutes."
Schalkle, the father of an 11-month-old boy, said that "as a new dad, that's harrowing. … I can't imagine witnessing a child hurt by a senseless crime. … That's why my wife and I went online to see where or how to donate and, finding nothing, wanted to establish some small way to help them."
The wisdom of a pursuit involving three vehicles topping 80 miles per hour in a residential neighborhood raised concern with County Attorney Mike Freeman, who said shortly after Powell was charged Wednesday, "Residential streets just aren't made for people driving 80 miles per hour."
The county attorney added that "[while] it's always easy for those of us to second guess," law enforcement policies on pursuits "should discourage that kind of conduct except in the most extreme cases in residential neighborhoods. People's lives, like these kids' lives, are a lot more important than catching this guy, in my view."
Two troopers and a trooper in training were put on standard paid administrative leave as investigators piece together circumstances of the pursuit.
Powell eluded a different state trooper just three days earlier in the same part of the city at roughly the same time of day, Freeman said.
Other than what the patrol has alleged in the criminal complaint filed against Powell, the agency's administration has yet to shed light on Monday's pursuit including whether the troopers adhered to agency policy.