Authorities say two pedestrians who were fatally struck as they crossed busy Larpenteur Avenue in rush hour darkness Thursday evening may have been hit by a second vehicle.
Robert Blake Buxton, 47, and Meridith Aikens, 45, both of Roseville, were making their way across the four-lane thoroughfare near Woodbridge Court when they were struck at 5:35 p.m. by a driver heading west on the road that serves as the border between St. Paul and Roseville.
That driver stopped, but surveillance video obtained from a nearby business shows a white SUV passing the crash site just seconds before they were hit, and two white or silver sedans passing the scene seconds after the victims were hit.
A caretaker who works in an apartment building near the crash site and was taking out trash at the time ran to the scene after hearing the impact. He said a second car ran over Aikens and that Buxton was alive for a few minutes before he died.
Police on Friday confirmed they found Aikens’ body a bit farther down in the right lane of westbound Larpenteur from where they found Buxton, leading them to think she could have been hit by more than one vehicle. At the very least, one or both drivers of the passing cars may have seen something, said Roseville Deputy Police Chief Erika Scheider.
“Maybe a second vehicle hit them and didn’t realize it,” Scheider said. “Or for some reason, they didn’t stick around. We hope they will come forward.”
Police also would like to speak with a pedestrian wearing a green jacket who talked to a St. Paul police officer but left the scene without giving a statement.
Buxton’s sister, Every Buxton, pleaded for any potential witnesses to step forward Friday evening, saying that the South Bend, Ind., native was struck as he walked to his parked car. “He was a good person. It’s not like he was doing something wrong,” she said. “If you know something, please speak up.”
Buxton described her brother as a loving father and hardworking handyman. He held two jobs, one at a local car dealership and another providing maintenance at Popeyes Chicken.
The driver who was involved in the crash, John Michael Rickey, 72, of St. Paul, stopped and was cooperating with authorities. Detectives obtained a search warrant and a blood sample to determine if alcohol was a factor. The sample was submitted to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The results have not been released.
As word of the deaths spread through the neighborhood, residents and visitors took extra caution. Betty Ramsey, who was visiting her sister in an apartment building across from the crash, has crossed Larpenteur near Woodbridge in the past. On Friday, Ramsey wasn’t taking any chances as she went to a nearby drugstore to pick up a prescription. She walked an extra block to cross at the signal-controlled intersection at Dale Street and Larpenteur.
“Never again,” she said about crossing at Woodbridge and Larpenteur.
Anybody with information about Thursday’s crash can call Roseville police at 651-767-0640 or file a tip through the city’s website, cityofroseville.com/3194/Crime-Tips.