Driver who hit Elyse Stern charged with felony hit and run, but not homicide

Categories: Bicycle, Crime
stern new rect.jpg
Pulled over after hitting Stern, Hernandez-Campoceco told police: "I hit a person, I'm not going to lie to you, I hit a person."
:::: UPDATE :::: Prosecutors: "Not enough evidence" to charge driver of car that hit Elyse Stern with homicide

The driver who struck and killed 28-year-old Elyse Stern while she biked through the intersection of East Lake Street and Cedar Avenue South early Saturday morning has been charged with a felony hit-and-run count and DWI, but not criminal vehicular homicide.

THE BACKSTORY: Elyse Stern, 28, killed in Saturday morning bike accident at Lake Street and Cedar Avenue

As the criminal complain explains it, an intoxicated 27-year-old Juan Ricardo Hernandez-Campoceco was driving through the intersection westbound on Lake Street when Stern tried to pass through the intersection in front of him. But Hernandez-Campoceco didn't see her and struck her with enough force to put a basketball-sized hole in his windshield. He then drove away from the scene before he was pulled over after an officer noticed his vehicle had massive front-end damage.

Stern wasn't wearing a helmet and her bike had no lights.

The criminal complaint explains in full detail:



The Star Tribune provides some biographical details about Stern:
Elyse Mary Stern was a beloved figure in Minneapolis' outdoor puppetry scene, having performed for In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre and the Bedlam Theatre in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. She also played clarinet and drums with BareBones Productions, a puppetry group that hosts an outdoor Halloween show.

"She is just sort of unlike anyone you've ever met, more loved than anyone I've ever met," said friend Betsy Burr. "This is so devastating to so many people."

Burr and Stern were part of a group of nine apparel designers who put on a fashion show called the "Fashion Sabbath" in 2009 at the Bedlam. Stern was also part of the army of creative bicyclists behind the annual Mayday Parade in the Powderhorn neighborhood. Stern, a waitress, rode her bike everywhere year-round, Burr said.
Stern was a regular at the Seward Cafe, and yesterday there was a donation jar set up there in her name.


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31 comments
eddogg67
eddogg67

Here's an idea.......pay attention when you're riding your bike on the street. Don't assume that every vehicle is going to stop for you. And if you're only source of transportation is a bicycle, you're a loser and are better off dead. Who in their right mind rides a bike when there's still snow on the ground?

miki.takata.shiatsu
miki.takata.shiatsu

Elyse Stern was a friend too many and her loss has been devastating to my community. They are a community of people that didn't need a loss to remind them of beauty or life or living fully each day, they already do this. But as they deal with their grief and loss they have also started creating. A bike light, a helmet, better city planning for bikers- none of those things may have saved her from a very intoxicated person driving a car. But it doesn't mean we shouldn't try harder. I know firsthand that bikes are expensive enough when you are living day to day, and bike helmets seem so expensive. So here is the link to donate to this fund: http://www.gofundme.com/2hjvac

cinnamongirl743
cinnamongirl743

The saddest part of this to me is that I could see a horrific accident like this coming. Last year, I lived two blocks away from El Rodeo (where this guy was apparently partying before this happened). Every Friday and Saturday night, my street got taken over by hordes of vehicles of people going to El Rodeo. At bar close, I cannot express the amount of drunk and disorderly conduct in my lawn and my neighbors' lawns before these people got into their vehicles and drove away. Many times we called the cops (whose precinct is less than a block away from this place) to report fights, noise violations, etc. etc. We always said that if cops were stationed at our street corner, they could be charging so many people with DUIs. The mornings after, the streets and sidewalks would be covered with beer cans and bottles, last swigs before driving away, I surmised. "Something horrific is going to happen someday," we'd say.  Indeed it did. RIP, Elyse.

Randall
Randall

What if he'd been completely sober?

Maybe he had his right blinker on and was slowing down to turn right on to Cedar and then his buddies told him to keep going straight to Bloomington (where he thought the accident happened).

Or maybe he had his left blinker on and made a move like he was turning left and then kept going straight. 

Drunk impairs decision making. Maybe he could have decided to avoid the collision if he wasn't drunk. 

Olivia
Olivia

Can you kill someone and do that much damage to your car driving the speed limit on Lake Street?  If he was speeding Alyse may likely have underestimated the time in which he would get to the intersection and the time she had to make her legal turn. If you are speeding and drunk and leave the scene of an accident what crimes have you committed?  But in the end - non of this is really the point - Elyse's family and friends have lost her forever. And my heart breaks for all of them - - -

Ruby
Ruby

I discussed this with my friend who is a lawyer and he said that when the BAC test comes back for the DWI, the charges will be elevated to Vehicular Homicide. You cannot charge someone for a crime without evidence and the three non-credible witnesses do not constitute as evidence.

lawremipsum
lawremipsum

I was t-boned (in a car) once by a truck that had signaled it was going to turn at an intersection but decided to proceed through it instead. For this reason I'm a little more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to the vulnerable cyclist than to the narrative given by the hit-and-run driver and his accomplices. It's a shame we will probably never know the true story.

noyfb
noyfb

Not sure why there's so much outrage here. Read the report. She made a left into oncoming traffic on a bike with no lights or reflectors at 2:30 in the morning. Odds are he would have hit her regardless of whether he was drunk or not. If I hang a left without yielding to oncoming traffic, I would expect to get hit in broad daylight, let alone pulling a stunt like that at night.

Sounds like he's just guilty of leaving the scene and a DWI, which is exactly how was charged. He deserves to go to jail for a bit, but not "rot in prison" for the rest of his life like some posters here have suggested.

barbertj23
barbertj23

I don't think anyone is trying to make the claim that this asshole drunk isn't at fault. But imagine hearing the story like she was in a car?

Female driver killed by drunk hit and run while she was running a red light with her lights off.

I applaud people who bike in Minneapolis, until they run red lights and stop signs and don't have reflective gear at night.

I want to be very clear though:
The Drunk who committed the hit and run is at fault and deserves to go to jail, but this is a sad reminder of how easy it is to forget to make yourself safe when traveling.

Wear safety and reflective gear
turn your car lights on
signal your turns
don't run lights and stop signs
don't operate a vehicle if you've been drinking

poptix
poptix

It's not homicide because she was operating an illegal vehicle on a street and failed to yield to traffic. In other words, she was blatantly ignoring all the rules of the road. 

Once you decide to do that you're pretty much giving everyone permission to run into you, possibly killing you, because *you* were in the wrong as well. 

She had no reflectors and no lights, both are required by law. 

Dan Mason
Dan Mason

In California its third-degree murder if you kill someone while operating a motor vehicle under the influence.

Tim Clausen
Tim Clausen

Sad as this is, why are people not using lights and helmets? Why do we not have laws enforcing helmet and light use like other countries? If you are riding in the street you are part of traffic. Trust no one on the road!

Chris Hoefer
Chris Hoefer

This is a disgusting travesty. My sympathies go out to her friends and family. Truly an outrage.

debbrasmyers
debbrasmyers

what the hell...he left the scene...hit and run that resulted in a death!!

debbrasmyers
debbrasmyers

major tension with Somilas and the Indian community as well...so what is up with this?? Do something!!

Kenneta Fabing
Kenneta Fabing

You've got to be kidding. He was drinking. Someone died. He made the choice to drink and drive! Without the homicide charge, it sends the message that it's ok to do just that.

dandykins
dandykins

@eddogg67 And not a word about the DRUNK DRIVER. Wow. Did you even take the time to read the story? Apparently, for Ed, being a bicyclist is worse than operating a 1,000lb+ vehicle drunk. Sure glad you're not writing our traffic safety laws...

lawremipsum
lawremipsum

@noyfbThe guy was so drunk he couldn't be interviewed after the accident (he became "unconscious"), and only he and his buddies, who encouraged him to split, are witnesses. So naturally, everything happened exactly as they described.

nobody
nobody

@barbertj23 She didn't run a red light. She made a left on green. The perp was driving the opposite direction on green and she crossed his path.

Sonia
Sonia

@barbertj23 I agree 100%. I am a cyclist and I ride at night, and I've had my share of near-misses with motorists driving like assholes. I've also been driving and had close calls with bikers riding without lights. As a cyclist, you need to make yourself as visible as possible and operate your bike in a legal or at least predictable fashion, to give cars the best opportunity to see and avoid you. This guy was drunk - that means he is automatically at fault in my book, but this is, as a friend said "a flashpoint opportunity" to advocate safe riding and the use of bike lights, and I think we can do so without putting the blame on this poor victim who sounds like she was usually a responsible rider.

Matthew_Hallacy
Matthew_Hallacy

@poptix funny, you just posted this comment on the MPD Facebook page. Making a lot of waves all the way from Nevada, aren't we?

hwalden19
hwalden19

@poptix yeah, totally not homicide when someone hits someone so hard their car is visibly damaged and keeps going!  And I'm sure someone who was visibly wasted would totally have paid attention to a bike light! And looking at Stern's bike, I'm SO SURE a helmet would have prevented her death.  Totally awesome insight, bro!

Jankowiak
Jankowiak

@Dan Mason No, it isn't. Look up California Penal Code § 191.5. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.  

Jankowiak
Jankowiak

@Kenneta Fabing This is a tragic loss, but you're wrong about the message that's being sent.  These laws are written with cool heads, not by those in mourning seeking vengeance.  To be criminal vehicular homicide, the driver would have to have been intoxicated and driving negligently.  Driving while intoxicated on its own doesn't necessarily mean driving negligently.  This is a horrible situation and I feel for the friends and family of Ms. Stern, but this is the proper charge under these circumstances.  

barbertj23
barbertj23

@nobody @barbertj23 

Reread the report and you're absolutely correct, she made a left on a green.

My apologies for misrepresenting information, I hate it when people do that. My intention was only to encourage people to be safer about biking.

followtherules
followtherules

@hwalden19 @poptix Even though this guy was wasted, if you want to ride a bike you are required to follow the same rules that cars have to follow. Riding at night without lights is not only very dangerous, but also against the law. Lastly, why would you NOT wear a helmet?

Sonia
Sonia

@followtherules @hwalden19 @poptix I don't know why this has to turn into some crazy "us vs. them" kind of argument. I bike. My friends bike. But I'll be the first to admit that being on a bike doesn't make you completely free from blame in any kind of traffic accident. That kind of attitude will definitely get you or someone else hurt. Maybe lights and a helmet wouldn't have helped - this guy was drunk and obviously deserves to rot in a jail cell. But as a cyclist you owe it to yourself and everyone you share the road with to be as safe as possible. It would be great if the people who knew Elyse would set up a fund or something to raise awareness for bike safety and use of lights to prevent future accidents, even if this one could not have been prevented that way and it was purely the actions of the drunk driver that were to blame.

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