A motorist fatally ran over a woman on an Inver Grove Heights street and kept going, explaining that she thought she hit a deer despite the victim’s head striking the windshield, according to felony charges filed Tuesday.

Breyona S. Cotton, 30, of Inver Grove Heights, was charged in Dakota County District Court with leaving the scene of a deadly crash and failing to notify police of a deadly crash in connection with the death in early January of 55-year-old Haimanot Gezahegne Gebremedhin.

County Attorney James Backstrom said that “any driver who strikes an object has an obligation to reasonably investigate what was struck and remain at the scene when the collision results in injury to or the death of a person.”

Police searched the car two days after the collision and said in a court filing that they collected DNA from smears on the windshield and hood, hair from the windshield, and fibers on the hood.

According to the criminal complaint:

Late in the afternoon on Jan 5, a passing motorist notified police of Gebremedhin on the north side of 80th Street near the intersection with Blaine Avenue. The longtime Inver Grove Heights resident was declared dead at the scene.

The next day, Cotton came to police headquarters with her attorney and said that friends told her about the crash being covered by the news media.

She explained that “out of nowhere” she heard a collision and thought she had struck a deer, the complaint read. She said she pulled over, looked around and went home.

State Patrol investigators determined that Gebremedhin’s legs stuck the front bumper of Cotton’s car, “forcing her onto the hood, with her head striking the lower portion of the windshield,” the charges read.

The report concluded that the victim should have been visible to the driver and that “any reasonable investigation into the collision would have revealed the victim’s body” to the motorist, the complaint continued.

Cotton was booked into jail soon after the crash, released and remains free ahead of an Oct. 7 court appearance. Efforts to reach her Tuesday were not successful.