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

Categories: Bicycle, Crime
elyse stern rect.jpg
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Elyse Mary Stern
:::: UPDATES ::::
-- Driver who hit Elyse Stern charged with felony hit and run, but not homicide
-- Prosecutors: "Not enough evidence" to charge driver of car that hit Elyse Stern with homicide


A Saturday morning accident at East Lake Street and Cedar Avenue South left a bicyclist dead and a driver behind bars.

SEE ALSO: Mpls bike-car crash map: Franklin and Portland Aves. S. among trouble spots [IMAGE]

Twenty-eight-year-old Elyse Mary Stern was riding her bike eastbound on Lake Street around 2:15 a.m. when she was struck by a Monte Carlo driven by 27-year-old Juan Ricardo Hernandez-Campoceco. Hernandez-Campoceco drove away from the scene but was arrested minutes later near East Franklin Avenue and Bloomington Avenue South. He had two passengers with him.

According to Minneapolis Police Department spokesman Bill Palmer, Hernandez-Campoceco showed "signs of intoxication" and was arrested on suspicion of DWI. He could be charged with criminal vehicular homicide this week. Here's Hernandez-Campoceco's mugshot:

Juan Ricardo Hernandez-Campoceco.jpg

Police say Stern wasn't wearing a helmet and had no lights on her bike. She was killed almost instantly -- Palmer said paramedics didn't even attempt to treat her when they arrived on the scene. Here's what her bike looked like after the accident:

elyse stern bike.jpg
Fox 9 screengrab

"I'm not blaming the victim here, but certainly one of the key ­lessons here is prevention," Palmer told reporters. "At 2 in the morning, you should take strong consideration of wearing a helmet... and take strong consideration of having lights on your bicycle."

The exact circumstances of the Saturday morning accident remain murky, but investigators are working to piece it together. Hernandez-Campoceco was apparently headed westbound on Lake when he struck Stern.

"We didn't know if it was a head-on, we have some information but we really need to wait for the reconstructionists to make a determination," Palmer said.

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42 comments
miki.takata.shiatsu
miki.takata.shiatsu

Elyse Stern was a friend too many and her loss has been devastating to  the community. This community of people 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. 

Here is the link to donate to this fund: http://www.gofundme.com/2hjvac

daisymorgan
daisymorgan

This past December, the 29th, I was riding home from work around 7pm. It was just dark enough for me to have both my lights on. I see a car on the neutral ground trying to cross St. Charles and it seemed to me that she saw me as well because the moment I start to slow down, she stops. Since I had the right of way, I begin to pick up speed just in time for the car to try to cross directly in front of me. At this point I was going too fast and had about enough time to try to turn in the direction of the vehicle. I was almost parallel with the vehicle, but almost doesn't count and my front wheel ended up bouncing of the car sending my bike and I to the concrete. Fortunately, the vehicle stopped and the lady driving it got out. One of the first things she said to me was "I'm so sorry, I didn't see you!" I glance at my partially mangled bike (fortunately, the extent of the damage was a bent beyond repair front wheel) and watched my lights blinking like crazy and asked the lady if I needed floodlights on my bike. 


The point of my story is this, my lights apparently did nothing to prevent this accident from taking place. While I know the lady didn't intend to hit me, I am also fairly certain that she saw me and simply thought she could cross the street before I passed her intersection. I do believe it is a good idea to have lights and even wear a helmet (I am guilty of not wearing a helmet), but when a sober lady at 7pm can claim not to see someone when they have both lights brightly flashing due to both having literally brand new batteries in them, then how can we think a drunk person at 2am will be paying more attention? The bottom line is this girl's death is yet another tragic and senseless death. Let's mourn for her and honor her by making it a death that is not in vain. Stricter laws must be in place for driving under the influence, driving tests should include teaching people behind the wheel proper ways of passing cyclists (three feet please!) and simply being aware of cyclists. On the other side of the coin, perhaps new bikes should come with a front and a rear light and maybe even a helmet. The lesson here is simple, the streets belong to us all and it's time we were aware of each other.

Michelle Glass
Michelle Glass

Just taking the DFL lead... This is their cry every time a motorcyclist (victim) is killed or injured in a crash.... blame the victim. Same needs to apply to bicyclists (which, unlike motorcyclists, are probably responsible for the negligence which leads to their own deaths or injuries).

Mike Jones
Mike Jones

You see an article about a cyclist getting killed by a hit-and-run drunk driver, and you think it's a good place to belch out your ill-formed and poorly expressed opinions on insurance requirements? Were you raised without good sense, or is it biological?

badnewsbikeclubNOLA
badnewsbikeclubNOLA

Here's the thing, I live in New Orleans where we probably have more drunk drivers per capita than anywhere else in America..... Pretty much everyone I know who rides a bike has been hit by a car at least once. Helmets will not save you, it's ridiculous to think so. Yeah they may prevent a concussion, but if you get hit by a car, you are more likely to die from internal injury to your torso. Helmets will work out for you in a low speed fall but not a high speed impact. 

Also.... Lights.... where do I start. Flashing lights seem to actually attract drunk drivers. It seems like they get distracted by them and swerve in their general direction more often than not. I have lights on my bikes, but after several near misses I don't even turn them on anymore. People in cars are too busy trying to not pass out from the booze, or texting, or any of the various stupid things they do in a one ton steel missile that I don't want to give them anything else to distract them..

This story is disgusting to me. Someone minding her own business and not in any way harming anyone else was killed by an irresponsible drunk idiot, and the police want to make it seem like she's somehow to blame for not having lights or a helmet? What if she had just been walking across the street? Should she have had lights and a helmet then? Put the blame where it belongs, which is squarely on the low grade excuse for a human who chose to drive drunk and stole another persons life through his own selfishness. Had he not been out driving drunk this would not have happened, and for anyone to think a helmet would have changed anything is asinine and naive at best.

Lara Marie Patterson
Lara Marie Patterson

@Caleb Porters: If I were to be walking around drunk and swinging around a knife and accidentally fatally stabbed a passerby, that knife doesn't loose the name "weapon" because I didn't mean to.

nkmk212009
nkmk212009

I agree with kent, it looks like he flat out ran her over.  Look at that seat tube.  So sad.

jael.ohare
jael.ohare

Let's remember the humanity of the person who died. In the days directly following a death, the human, appropriate thing for a community to do is to simply mourn the loss and respect the dead. Have empathy for the victim's family & loved ones. Debates about whether bike safety or drunk driving are more important are irrelevant to the fact that someone died. Even IF she was somehow at fault doesn't mean she deserved to lose her life. A family lost a loved one. There's a real person behind this story, it's not just a blurb or a forum for you to spout your opinions. So have a little respect and have your bike safety debate in more appropriate setting.

My condolences to the family.

And hey this is also not an appropriate forum for racist assumptions and immigration debates. I personally find committing a drunk hit and run absolutely disgusting and abhorrent but it ain't got nothing to do with the color of the man's skin.

Kent Erickson
Kent Erickson

More than likely a helmet or headlights would have not made a difference when a drunk driver is involved. With that being said though, it should be common sense to at least have lights on your bicycle while riding in the dark. My condolences do go out to this woman's family for this tragic loss of life.

engy51
engy51

while this is a huge and very said tragedy and drunk driving is terrible. I am terribly frustrated by the naivete of so many bikers. First of all, yes wear a helmet. I nearly died in a crash only involving myself while biking without a helmet. It was one of those freak things where I just forgot that one time... It is great how popular biking has become in the Twin Cities but we also need to realize that it is illegal to not have lights or reflectors on a bike. So many out there with no lights and no reflectors at all. I am lit up and blinking like crazy when I bike at night. Whenever I see someone who is not I want to yell, "Get a Light".... but you know what that sounds like... You are invisible unless lit up and reflectors are not enough. Also so many just have a rear light when it's the front light that is most important....

Of course this is a terrible tragedy and the hit and run drunk driver is too blame but this could happen to anyone with no lights to see the bikers!

lasagnacat
lasagnacat

I think the police spokesman is right, though he probably should have used better words. It is a terrible tragedy, but lights could have prevented the accident and a helmet could have saved her life. He's right to call out that people need to do more to prevent drunk driving (which is only alleged at this point) AND get more cyclists to take basic safety precautions.

Christian Johnson
Christian Johnson

If she was killed before the police arrived a helmet may not have made any difference

Sayer Payne
Sayer Payne

it's a bummer to see someone post something like this on an obit. shame.

Miles William Abramson
Miles William Abramson

Hate to see this happen to a fellow biker and more importantly, a fellow human being. Ride safe everyone!

velo.jana
velo.jana

So, the quote regarding prevention wasn't "Don't get behind the wheel when drunk, folks"??? It's "wear a helmet"?! Revolting.

Kinnell Tackett
Kinnell Tackett

I don't think his comments are out of place. A life was lost, which is terrible, but it's an opportunity for learning as well. I feel terrible for her friends and family.

Reanne
Reanne

It sounds a lot like victim blaming to me.  Maybe one of the "key lessons" from this tragedy should read, "Don't drive drunk."  "At 2 in the morning you should take strong consideration to not operate a vehicle after alcohol consumption... and take strong consideration that you could kill someone."

Corrine Bruning
Corrine Bruning

This is so sad. The quote from Palmer about her wearing a helmet is pretty disgusting. First and foremost, she was murdered by someone with a weapon because they were intoxicated. Yes, she should have been wearing a helmet, but maybe we should have stronger DWI laws that discourage people to not drink and drive.

poptix
poptix

@daisymorgan 

New bikes are supposed to come equipped with the legal minimum of reflectors *and* lights by law. Unfortunately the police do not enforce it any more than they enforce the reflectors or lights. 

Who knows if it would have saved this girl, but there's a chance it would have and the fact that she wasn't legal to be on the road means that the drunk driver will face much reduced charges. 

xanderstrike
xanderstrike

@Michelle Glass They are blaming the victim. Someone drunk guy killed a girl with a 2000lb car equipped with floodlights, and they're saying that this could have been "prevented" by her wearing safety equipment. Safety equipment doesn't prevent accidents, it mitigates the damage from them. The way to prevent this kind of accident is to train drivers to look out for cyclists, and not drive drunk.

This article, just like every other on a cycling/motorcycling fatality, feels like it has to point out how "unsafe" these vehicles are, even though it's obviously the driver's fault that he was drunk and couldn't make sure the intersection was clear. Bikes of any kind are only dangerous because of the drivers they have to share the road with.

Also, read up on cycling fatality statistics. Almost all fatal bicycle accidents involve cars, and in the majority of those accidents (reports vary, 57% to 80%), drivers are "highly culpable" or "partly culpable." If you ride a bike, you should know that drivers just don't look for us.

Onan
Onan

@Kent Erickson 

My condolences to her family and friends...

With that said, I don't even TRY to ride the Greemway or any of the other paths at night. There are too many others out there with NO lights on their rides. I can't see them until it's almost too late. The same goes for riders at night when I am driving at night.

No lights? No reflectors? I can't see cyclists AT ALL until it's too late.

mira.elliott
mira.elliott

@engy51 I'm really glad this gave you an opportunity to talk about you and yourself so fluently. 

hwalden19
hwalden19

@lasagnacat dude, look at the photo of her bike.  Helmets and lights are great, they help a lot, I get nervous when my friends don't have them...but in this case? Not likely it would have helped all that much.

Marcos.LopezCarlson
Marcos.LopezCarlson

@Edward Bertsch jumping to some conclusions there. The felony charge is probably the hit and tun part of his crime.

DCIII
DCIII

@velo.jana Obviously, "don't drive drunk" is always a good preventative measure in any instance, but unfortunately if you are going to ride a bike on major streets it is incumbent on you to take your own preventative measures because in a car vs. bike matchup, the car always wins.  This is a horribly sad case, and I hope the driver of the car gets the book thrown at him, but I think it's an emotional reaction to call this "revolting" when in fact it is sound advice that could save lives of bikers.

peeweepal
peeweepal

@Corrine Bruning Minnesota has the strictest drunk driving laws in the country.  We need more than just strict laws to keep this from happening.   People keep committing this crime even though the laws are in effect.  Many do it without getting caught.  With increasing offenses of DUI/DWI, there is something dramatically wrong with this society.  It is psychological more than anything.  People are not well.  Drunk drivers are rarely able to make a good decision once they're drunk.  The decision to not drive needs to be made before they start drinking.  Somehow we need to teach people to be more responsible and sensible.  There needs to be more activism about this.  People can protest guns when it's a hot political button, but when people are killing each other with cars while drunk, we hear very little about it.  It's just one more sad story in the news and very little is done besides changing laws.

winga7
winga7

@Corrine BruningYes, it is very sad. I wish she would have had lights on her bike. The helmet probably wouldn't have saved her anyway. This is absolutely devastating.

winga7
winga7

@Corrine Bruning Yes, it is very sad. I wish she would have had lights on her bike. This is devastating.

daisymorgan
daisymorgan

@poptix @daisymorgan I did not know that new bikes are required by law to have lights. That's fantastic. My main problem is the officer's statement. As someone pointed out earlier, the issued never would have come up if the incident involved a pedestrian on foot, not that it should though. I've nearly hit joggers in dark clothing running in the bike lanes early in the morning numerous times and I'm pretty sure I would have been considered at fault even though I was doing exactly what I should. As someone who's been using a bike as sole transportation for nearly ten years now, I've noticed how people tend to think of cyclists more as pests who are in the way then as human beings choosing a different mode of transportation. I find that to be a very disturbing thing.

velo.jana
velo.jana

@DCIII @velo.jana The revolting part was that no print/breath was given to the recommendation that people not drive drunk and not endanger the lives of themselves and others. Sickening.

uratoolkm
uratoolkm

@peeweepal I live next to a bar, and every evening around midnight I watch drunk after drunk get behind the wheel. I have more than a dozen friends who have been busted for DUI more than once and none of them have ever done more than a night or two in jail and if you walk into any bar. I was rear ended by a drunk driver and because I only had a concussion and black eye, I got NO compensation from him or his insurance because of Minnesota law. MINNESOTA LAWS PROTECT DRUNK DRIVERS. What is the percentage of drunks on the road at 1:30 am? is it zero? Nope, try close to 20%. 1 out of 5 people on the road are DRUNK and DRIVING and they are most likely not going to get busted because we have almost no law enforcement. 


crc3245
crc3245

@peeweepal please tell us your source for "Minnesota has the strictest drunk driving laws in the country." Not buying that for a second.

mauslund
mauslund

@winga7 I find it so hard to see bike riders at night sometimes they have dark clothing on. She will be so missed you can tell she was a great spirit.

ilyeana
ilyeana

@ePachu  Or, "obviously", people who drive drunk don't care about/listen to PSAs telling them not to drive drunk. If stopping drunk driving was as simple as saying, "Don't drive drunk," over and over, then drunk driving would be a thing of the past.

I am sick of people conflating preventative measures with victim blaming. They are not the same thing, and you CAN support people taking preventative measures like wearing helmets and lights without blaming the victim/absolving the guilty party. I think it's great that victim blaming awareness has entered discussions like these, because it makes people more aware of their language, tone, attitude, etc. when addressing situations like these, but that doesn't mean that there's not still value in looking at what the victim did that might have put them in greater danger and learning from it. Even if there's no way to know whether the situation would have played out differently with a helmet/lights in the mix. To do so is NOT the same as victim blaming.

ePachu
ePachu

@DCIII Of course they need to reiterate "Don't Drive Drunk". Obviously, there are still morons who need to continue to hear it if it's still happening.

DCIII
DCIII

@velo.jana @DCIII  Do they really need to say "don't drive drunk" in this article?  That's been a theme for most of the world for the last 50 years.  Why so many people do it, I don't understand.  It is so selfish. 

As far as my "emotional" statement, more prudent words might have been "knee-jerk".  I'm certainly saddened by this story as well.


velo.jana
velo.jana

@DCIII No buts about it. Drunk driving is so common as to be completely glossed over. Yes, a light and helmets might have helped- we will likely never know- but it's sad that the statement doesn't address *both* sides of the prevention coin.

And, emotional? Hell, yes, it's an emotional reaction. I'd hope that most people would have an emotional reaction when confronted with a tragic story like this one.

peeweepal
peeweepal

@uratoolkm @peeweepal I'm not arguing that point.  Law enforcement from city to city is different.  The laws and the enforcement of the law will always be an issue.  I think we need more education and to deal with the people before they drink and drive.  I don't pretend to have answers but I know that there is limited enforcement and the increased strictness of laws is NOT stopping people from drinking and driving.

peeweepal
peeweepal

@crc3245 @peeweepal I don't have documentation for you.  I know that MN is AMONG the strictest in the country.  Forgive me.  That's not the point.  Make them more and more strict.  That's fine.  PEOPLE WILL STILL DO IT!!!  Why?  That is the problem.  Another person kills someone else on a bike or in a car or on a crosswalk.  The penalty may be stricter and harsher.  Why not try to get people to STOP doing it.  That is my point. I'm sorry you missed that.

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