A driver fled the state after running over and killing a woman in St. Paul but returned nearly a month later and admitted to being behind the wheel, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday.
Cristian H. Cuellar of Roseville was charged in Ramsey County District Court with criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the Jan. 28 crash at E. 7th and Eichenwald streets that killed Susan Harlan, 66, of St. Paul.
Harlan was hit just before 6 p.m. and was taken by emergency personnel to Regions Hospital, where she was pronounced dead an hour later.
Cuellar was charged by summons and has a court date set for March 22. Contact information for him was not immediately available.
According to the criminal complaint:
A caller to 911 saw a van with ladders on top hit Harlan as she was crossing the street. The driver kept going in his badly damaged vehicle.
Police soon located the van, locked and with the key in the ignition, at E. 6th Street and Johnson Parkway. Officers found Cuellar's wallet inside with photo identification.
On Feb. 23, nearly four weeks later, Cuellar and his attorney visited police headquarters. He told police that he was returning from a job and dropping off co-workers when one passenger said "Watch out," the complaint read.
Cuellar said he thought he had struck a man and was too afraid to call 911, choosing instead to drive off and flee to Kansas once he learned about what happened from news reports.
However, "He thought about his family and returned to Minnesota," the complaint continued. "The defendant didn't want to be on the run."
Cuellar said he was not on a phone and was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.
It was the second hit-and-run pedestrian fatality in St. Paul in a week. John Benjamin, 68, was struck and killed Jan. 22 at N. McKnight Road near the intersection with Margaret Street. Robert W. Kinney, 57, of Maplewood, was charged Thursday with criminal vehicular homicide in connection with Benjamin's death.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482