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Austin R. Conley

Provided photo,

Teisha Randle

Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office,

Driver says she didn't know she'd hit a person

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH and NICOLE NORFLEET
  • Star Tribune staff writers
  • October 30, 2012 - 7:02 PM

An unlicensed 27-year-old motorist was charged Tuesday in the high-speed hit-and-run death of an Augsburg College student over the weekend after bar closing time in Minneapolis' Warehouse District.

Teisha Y. Randle, of St. Paul, was charged in Hennepin County District Court with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide, accused of striking and killing Austin R. Conley, 20, early Saturday, then fleeing.

It's the second Twin Cities case since Saturday in which an unlicensed driver was involved in a fatal accident.

Early Monday, a minivan driven by Isidoro Corona, 49, of Minneapolis, ran out of gas in the right lane of westbound Interstate 494 near France Avenue S. in Bloomington.The ensuing pileup killed cabdriver Nadir Ombabi, 57, of Burnsville.

Corona was driving on a revoked license and was booked into the Hennepin County jail.

Randle told police that she didn't know that she hit a person, and left the scene thinking that someone had thrown a rock at her windshield, according to the criminal complaint.

Conley was hit about 2:45 a.m. Saturday while walking near the corner of 3rd Street and 1st Avenue N. He was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died.

The 911 caller to police said "the car was going 90" miles per hour at the time, according to the complaint.

Publicity about the case released through news reports helped lead police to Randle, said Minneapolis Police Sgt. Stephen McCarty.

The car involved in the hit-and-run was found "hidden in the garage" of a family member's St. Paul home, according to the charges.

The sergeant said that Randle's license was revoked at the time of the accident, but McCarty did not know why she didn't have a valid license.

Her criminal record includes an arrest on June 30, 2006, at 4:20 a.m. in Minneapolis on suspicion of drunken driving. She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor driving under the influence. State records show no other citations on her driving record.

Randle, who was arrested in Ramsey County late Sunday, remains jailed in lieu of $150,000 bail.

Crosswalk signal observed

The complaint said that people who were with Conley at the time told police they were in the crosswalk and observing the walk signal when the college student was struck.

Conley flew through the air and was knocked out of his shoes. The vehicle never slowed down and fled onto a freeway entrance, the complaint said.

Moments before Conley was hit, at least one other driver saw the car swerving around vehicles and speeding, the complaint said.

Randle told investigators that she had been at a Warehouse District bar that night with friends for a birthday celebration.

She said she was driving no more than 40 mph after leaving the gathering and heard a loud crash, thinking that a rock was thrown at her windshield.

Peering through her "exploded" windshield, Randle said, she entered westbound I-94 near downtown and exited at Dowling Avenue N. to meet up with an acquaintance for a ride, according to the complaint.

When her car was found in St. Paul, it had a large crease in the hood to go with the shattered windshield, authorities said.

Family's reaction

Randle's family members said that she wasn't a bad person and that she would have stopped if she knew she hit somebody.

"If she said it was an accident, then it's an accident," said her cousin Nekia Quinn.

Randle's aunt Doris Quinn said her niece was in college pursuing a nursing degree. "If she would have known that she had hit that young man, she would have stopped," Quinn said.

Randle called police and they picked her up Sunday, Quinn said.

The next day police came back to the house and found the car in the garage after they said they got a tip, she said.

Quinn said she wasn't sure how the car got in the detached garage, which she said is kept unlocked.

Conley's father, Earl Conley, said police called him Monday morning with the developments, which he said gave him satisfaction to "some degree. ... They said, 'We have a person in custody' and there was a confession already."

Conley was a first-year Augsburg student who lived on the Minneapolis campus and was a business management major.

Conley's sister, Alissa Conley, 21, of Minneapolis, said her brother grew up in Minneapolis with his family -- his parents, an older sister, an older brother and her -- and attended Dunwoody Institute and several other Minneapolis schools before going to Augsburg. He loved creating his own rap music and had hoped to work in the music business after college, she said.

He also worked at the Seven Sushi Ultralounge and Skybar at 700 Hennepin Av. S. in downtown Minneapolis, his sister said.

pwalsh@startribune.com • 612-673-4482 nicole.norfleet@startribune.com • 612-673-4495

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