The St. Paul crash last week that killed a Harding High School student and injured her boyfriend was a tragic accident for which the driver is "very sorry," his attorney, Alberto Miera, told the victims' family and friends Monday.

The statement outside a Ramsey County courtroom was of little comfort to Meseret Semeani, whose niece, Clarisse Grime, 16, died Thursday after being struck by Carlos Viveros-Colorado as she sat in the grass waiting for a bus.

Semeani said she did not believe Viveros-Colorado, 50, was sorry. She said he must be held accountable for driving without a license and with a possible physical ailment.

"We still need justice," Semeani said.

Viveros-Colorado made his first court appearance Monday on a charge of criminal vehicular homicide, and remained jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail. An omnibus hearing was set for July 30.

Miera told District Judge Salvador Rosas that Viveros-Colorado was a working man trying to take care of a daughter and his grandchildren.

"He wants to address the issue," Miera said during an unsuccessful argument to lower the bail amount. "He feels so badly for what happened, so very, very badly."

Grime's boyfriend, Eduardo Vazquez-Torres, 17, attended the brief hearing, and was outside the courtroom to hear Miera say of his client and the crash: "I want to let you know: He's very sorry." Grime's parents were at home tending to funeral arrangements, Semeani said.

The charges quote witnesses as saying that Viveros-Colorado was speeding east on 3rd Street in a sport-utility vehicle when he lost control, hit a fire hydrant and then drove over a sidewalk and into the grassy area where Grime was sitting in the shade.

He told police later that his left leg and right arm had gone numb while he was driving, and that both legs went numb before he lost control. He added that he'd seen a doctor about numbness issues about three months earlier, but they didn't find anything wrong.

He also is alleged to have told police that his foot was stuck on the accelerator.

On Monday, Miera told the judge that Viveros-Colorado lost control of the SUV when he panicked because of the numbness in his arm and leg, and that he had stepped on the gas instead of the brake.

"This was an accident," Miera said.

Prosecutor Margaret Galvin said authorities are likely to add additional charges when they know more about Vazquez-Torres' injuries.

Anthony Lonetree • 612-875-0041