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Fellow students and friends lit candles as they gathered together to sing to their friend Clarisse Grime who died after being struck by an SUV waiting for the bus in St. Paul, Min., Friday, July 6, 2012.

Kyndell Harkness, Dml - Star Tribune

Driver tried to flee crash, witnesses say

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG
  • Star Tribune
  • November 6, 2012 - 6:17 AM

The St. Paul man who lost control of his SUV and plowed into a 16-year-old girl outside Harding High School in July tried to flee but couldn't because of his badly damaged car, her boyfriend and a police officer testified Monday.

Carlos Viveros Colorado, 51, is charged in Ramsey County District Court with criminal vehicular homicide, accused of fatally striking Clarisse Grime, 16, and criminal vehicular operation in connection with injuries to her boyfriend, Eduardo Vazquez Torres, 17, on July 5.

Colorado last month rejected a plea deal and waived his right to a jury trial. Ramsey County District Judge John Van De North will deliver a verdict after the trial concludes.

Grime was sitting on a grassy embankment, waiting for a bus with Torres, when they were struck about 1 p.m. at E. 3rd and Hazelwood Streets. Grime died at the scene.

Torres, who was treated for bruises, testified that after Grime was struck he heard the engine of Colorado's SUV revving and the wheels spinning.

The car didn't get anywhere because one wheel was badly damaged, he said.

"He didn't ask me if I was OK," Torres said of Colorado when he exited the vehicle. "He didn't go check on the body."

Grime had just finished a day of summer school at Harding when the accident occurred. Torres testified that they saw the car coming and that he yelled for her to jump out of the way, but she appeared too shocked to act.

St. Paul Police Sgt. Greg Gravesen testified that his accident reconstruction showed that the SUV tried to accelerate up the embankment, kicking up grass behind it.

The car slipped back down, partly due to a flat front tire, he testified.

Defense: Numbness a factor

Colorado's attorney, Alberto Miera, said in opening statements that just before the accident his client felt numbness in his leg and arm and tried to brake. Unable to do so, he accidentally hit the gas and then swerved to avoid hitting a car, losing control of his vehicle, Miera said.

"The reason he lost control of it is because he's a human being and he panicked," Miera said.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Lamin poked holes at those assertions with witness testimony which indicated that nothing was obstructing the road and that Colorado had just finished working a 4 a.m. shift at a bakery, where he hadn't complained of any leg or arm numbness.

Miera said that Colorado had experienced such numbness before.

Witnesses including Torres, Harding teacher Emily Walz and St. Paul officer Mike Tharalson testified that they saw Colorado walking near his car without any problems.

Miera said Colorado "indicated to officers of numbing" at the scene, but was never taken to a hospital for evaluation.

Walz testified that she was driving west on E. 3rd Street and preparing to turn north onto Hazelwood when she saw Colorado's vehicle cresting a hill toward her. It crossed the center line and looked "out of control," she said.

Walz said she waited to turn because she was worried about Colorado's trajectory. His car ran up a curb, sheared off a fire hydrant and continued through the intersection and down the embankment, she said.

Walz also testified that she did not see anything in the road that would have obstructed Colorado's path.

Dr. Victor Froloff of the Ramsey County medical examiner's office said that Grime died of traumatic head injury. She suffered multiple skull fractures, brain damage and pelvic fractures, he said.

Testimony will continue Tuesday.

Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708 Twitter: @ChaoStrib

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