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Friends and classmates of Clarisse Grime, 16, of St. Paul who died yesterday at Harding High School came to place flowers and grieve near where she died after being hit by an out of control SUV near the schools sign.

Richard Sennott, Dml - Star Tribune

Jackie Turner, chief engagement officer for St. Paul public school, answered questions for the media across the street from where a teen was hit and killed near Harding High School in St. Paul, Min., Thursday, July 5, 2012.

Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

Clarisse Grime

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St. Paul officer Tom Schimdt walked down Third St. to open up the street too traffic as investigators still worked the scene where a teen was hit and killed near Harding High School in St. Paul, Min., Thursday, July 5, 2012.

Kyndell Harkness, DML - Star Tribune

A no parking sign was still bent over as firefighters tried to clean up the scene where a teen was hit and killed near Harding High School in St. Paul, Thursday.

Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

Out-of-control SUV kills 16-year-old St. Paul girl

  • Article by: JOY POWELL
  • Star Tribune
  • July 6, 2012 - 2:50 PM

Just about every school day, Rachel Moore said, she would see the teenage girl sitting in a grassy area, waiting to catch a bus after attending summer classes at Harding High School on St. Paul's East Side.

On Thursday, she and other neighbors heard a crash as a driver lost control of his maroon SUV, hit a fire hydrant and a sign, and then drove down an incline, running over and killing the teen near that city bus stop.

Clarisse Grime, 16, of St. Paul, died at the scene.

Police were questioning a 50-year-old man who was driving the vehicle when it crashed about 1 p.m. at E. 3rd and Hazelwood Streets, in front of Harding, just after summer classes let out for the day.

Witnesses told police that the driver of the maroon SUV was speeding east on 3rd when he tried to turn left onto Hazelwood to head north, said Howie Padilla, a St. Paul police spokesman.

"That red truck came zooming east on Third," said Anthony Williams, 16, a Harding student who said he witnessed the accident. He said he was friends with "Clary" Grime, who was waiting with her boyfriend, as they did every day after school. Her boyfriend, Eduardo Vazquez-Torres, 17, was injured and taken to Regions Hospital, where he was treated for noncritical injuries.

The SUV ran over the hydrant, which rolled into the intersection, he said. The vehicle crossed Hazelwood and drove onto the sidewalk on the north side of 3rd Street, where the driver got out -- but the SUV kept going, Williams said.

"He bails his car, and it went down the hill and squashed the girl," Williams said.

The driver went to his SUV and began checking the front of it for damage, Williams said. "He didn't realize he had hit her."

Once the driver realized that he had hit someone, Williams said, "he stood by his car and was holding his head in shock."

Moore, 52, ran with her daughter and other neighbors across Hazelwood, only to see the teen take her last breaths, Moore said.

Her daughter, Ashley Moore, 23, said the girl's boyfriend was crying and pleading, "Please move! Talk!"

It's a corner that has had other accidents, and the neighbors have long wanted a stop sign there, they said.

Padilla said there have been two other accidents there in the past two years, and one of those involved nonfatal injuries. That was a two-vehicle accident in November 2010, he said.

He noted that it's a sharp corner to turn onto Hazelwood and said the driver misjudged the corner, took out the fire hydrant and lost control of his vehicle. Police conducted toxicology tests Thursday, but it was too early to say whether citations would be issued, Padilla said.

Police took measurements and photos at the scene, as small groups of students and residents watched.

"She was a really good friend," said Araceli Perez, 17, sobbing as she looked at the accident scene, where Grime's body lay draped in a white sheet, a few yards behind where the vehicle ran over her.

"She was always there for us."

Perez and others said Grime was to be a junior at Harding this fall.

School officials said counselors would be available Friday throughout the day "to work with students and staff that may need additional support during this difficult time."

"It breaks my heart to hear of this tragic accident," Jean O'Connell, chair of the St. Paul school board, said in a written statement. "My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the students involved."

Joy Powell • 651-925-5038

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