The teenager accused of fleeing state troopers in an SUV and causing a crash in south Minneapolis that killed three people in another vehicle has never had a driver’s license and was serving probation for theft, his mother said Monday.
Dayquan Hodge, 18, remained hospitalized Monday at Hennepin County Medical Center with what the State Patrol said were life-threatening injuries sustained after he raced down Cedar Avenue and broadsided a pickup truck at E. 35th Street about 1:20 a.m. Sunday. He was listed in fair condition.
Four other teens in the SUV with Hodge also were injured.
Kotrisha S. Brown, of Minneapolis, told the Star Tribune that her son was driving an SUV owned by his friend’s mother. When the vehicle was reported stolen, the State Patrol launched a brief ground pursuit that was called off several blocks before the collision.
Brown said she had “no idea” what her son was doing that night, other than that he had left her home in the SUV with his friend.
“I didn’t know he would be driving,” she said of her son.
After being turned away Sunday from HCMC by security, Brown said she was allowed Monday to speak with her son.
“He’s not taking what he did lightly,” Brown said. “He feels really bad for the lives he has destroyed. He is willing to take responsibility for the part he played.”
She said her son and the friend were at her home earlier in the evening and found it odd that the SUV was parked around the corner. Brown said the friend told her that “his mom lets him drive it all the time.”
Brown said that Hodge had a troubled background. She said he was convicted of theft when he was 16 and under child protection supervision for a time until a little more than a year ago.
The State Patrol was withholding the medical conditions and identities of the teens in the vehicle because “they may be charged,” said Lt. Tiffani Nielson. Potential offenses range from curfew violations for the 13- and 14-year-old, Nielson said, to more serious counts for the two 16-year-olds and Hodge.
Brown said she had heard that one of the four injured teens was not doing well.
‘Wasn’t worth three lives’
Killed in the crash were Kimberly M. Gunderson, 48, of Minneapolis; and Kenneth and Sheryl Carpentier, 64 and 65 respectively, a married couple who split their time between the Twin Cities and Arizona.
The three were returning from an informal reunion on westbound 35th Street when the SUV, driving south on Cedar, hit the pickup. The impact left the mangled vehicles just outside the front door of Matt’s Bar and Grill, a popular burger and drinking spot.
The patrol had pursued the SUV for about four blocks over roughly 30 seconds before easing off shortly before the crash. The troopers involved in the pursuit were Taylor Carter, Steven Lindbeck, Aaron Ostertag and Scott Smith. Years of service for the troopers range from five, for Smith, to less than a year for Ostertag.
Nielson said the patrol is working to determine whether agency policy was followed in the pursuit.
“This wasn’t worth three lives,” said Gunderson’s cousin, Natasha Gunderson.
Joe Tamburino, a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney, said he wants more emphasis placed on the young driver’s actions rather than the propriety of the patrol’s brief pursuit before the collision.
“Instead of calling out the criminal conduct of the 18-year-old driver — how he not only caused the death of three people, placed the general public at risk, and put four juvenile passengers at risk — there’s no discussion of where the parents of these kids were,” Tamburino said.
Brown said that she’s thinking of the three people killed and their loved ones, as well as her son.
“My heart goes out to everyone who was affected by this accident,” she said.