A teenager speeding from state troopers in a stolen SUV hit another vehicle and killed three people early Sunday at a south Minneapolis intersection, where the wreckage came to rest outside the door of a popular neighborhood bar shortly after closing time.
The collision occurred about 1:20 a.m. at the corner of Cedar Avenue S. and E. 35th Street, according to the State Patrol. The crumpled vehicles lay in front of Matt’s Bar and Grill.
The driver of the stolen SUV, identified as Dayquan J. Hodge, 18, of Minneapolis, suffered life-threatening injuries and was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he is in police custody, the patrol said. Also taken to HCMC with unspecified injuries were a 16-year-old girl and boys ages 16, 14 and 13 who were in the SUV, the patrol said.
The stolen Ford Escape caught the attention of a trooper about 1:15 a.m. on eastbound Interstate 94 near the Lowry Hill Tunnel, the patrol said. The SUV exited onto Hwy. 55, then onto southbound Cedar Avenue, the patrol said.
Two troopers attempted to stop the SUV on the ramp leading to Cedar, but the driver got past them. A ground pursuit began at that point and was suspended after four blocks once a patrol helicopter began tracking the SUV from above, the patrol said.
Moments later, the SUV hit a pickup truck broadside as it headed west on 35th Street.
The amount of time from when the SUV left Hiawatha Avenue for Cedar Avenue until the crash was less than 75 seconds, with the pursuit lasting no more than 30 or so seconds, according to State Patrol dispatch audio.
A waiting trooper reported he was in pursuit, and the patrol helicopter pilot aired that he was overhead 10 seconds later. Roughly another 20 seconds passed, then the trooper on the ground terminated the street pursuit.
Family members at the scene identified the three people killed in the pickup as Kimberly M. Gunderson, 48, of Minneapolis; and husband and wife Sheryl Carpentier, 65, and Kenneth Carpentier, 64, who split their time between the Twin Cities and Arizona.
“This wasn’t worth three lives,” said Gunderson’s cousin, Natasha Gunderson, who placed flowers Sunday morning on the sidewalk outside Matt’s.
Kimberly Gunderson, a Roosevelt High School graduate who worked in health care, caught a ride with the Carpentiers after leaving an informal neighborhood reunion in south Minneapolis, said Natasha Gunderson and another cousin, AnnDee Gunderson.
Sheryl Carpentier’s brother, Rick Goodsell, said he was at the same gathering and turned down a ride from the Carpentiers.
Goodsell described his sister as a “free spirit.” “She always told it like it is and loved to have fun,” he said, adding that the mother of one was a big Vikings fan.
Kenneth Carpentier was the designated driver Saturday night and into Sunday morning, Goodsell said.
In June, another crash following a chase by the State Patrol drew criticism from Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and the family of three young victims. On June 11, two patrol squad cars pursued a speeding SUV driver on I-94 until he veered into a north Minneapolis playground and hit three children among a sibling group of seven spending time with their father.
Kabaar W. Powell, 27, of Minneapolis, ran 22 stop signs on residential streets in a chase that lasted about six minutes, at times topped 80 mph and didn’t end until the SUV hit the children at the playground outside Jenny Lind Elementary School. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison.
Authorities continue to investigate whether the troopers pursuing Powell followed policy.
The patrol is working to establish the speed of the stolen SUV during Sunday’s pursuit, said Lt. Tiffani Nielson. Emergency dispatch audio indicated the SUV was going at least 60 miles per hour when it slammed into the pickup.
A patrol member was heard on dispatch audio pointing out immediately after the crash that “our guys were not in pursuit; they were not in pursuit” at the time of impact.
A photo taken Sunday by a man who lives across from Matt’s showed at least two vehicles on the sidewalk.