Charge: 'Super-drunk' boyfriend ran from crash that killed St. Thomas student

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MINNEAPOLIS— A 21-year-old Minneapolis man with a history of driving offenses was charged Wednesday with criminal vehicular homicide after crashing his car into a pole and running away, leaving his girlfriend, a University of St. Thomas student from Eden Prairie, for dead.

Michael Laurence Campbell was charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide — "operating vehicle in a grossly negligent manner" and "driver who causes collision leaves scene," according to the Hennepin County attorney's office. Campbell remained in custody Wednesday at the Hennepin County jail.

According to an acquaintance, Campbell was "super-drunk" when he left his home around 2 a.m. Sunday, according to the charges.

The crash happened around 3:40 a.m. at the Stinson Boulevard exit ramp off southbound Interstate 35W.

Ria Patel, Campbell's girlfriend, was in the passenger seat of the red Ford Focus that Campbell allegedly was driving when it smashed into a traffic pole on the 30-mph stretch of road, killing the 20-year-old, who was a junior studying business and economics at St. Thomas in St. Paul.

"The entire passenger side of the car was crushed. ... There were no visible skid marks," according to the charges, which state that Campbell didn't try to help Patel, but implied that he did go back for his phone.

According to the charges:

One witness told police she saw a man — whom she later identified as Campbell — get out of the car and run to a nearby McDonald's. The witness, a woman, called 911.

Soon after, Campbell came back to the car, knelt down by the driver's side and rummaged for something, the woman told police. Patel was slumped in the passenger seat. The woman walked toward Campbell, and Campbell told her to call 911.

She told him she already had. He ran off toward a Honeywell parking lot.

A Honeywell employee told police she saw a man matching Campbell's description run through the parking lot holding a phone. The man jumped over a fence along the interstate, the Honeywell employee said.

Police officers and dogs were unable to find him Sunday night, but they found his wallet at the scene.

Investigators talked to "numerous" people at Campbell's home who confirmed that he had been there earlier Sunday morning with Patel, sometime before 2 a.m. "One of the parties state Defendant (Campbell) was 'super-drunk,'" according to the charges.

Campbell was at large until Tuesday, when he was arrested in Wright County.

According to the charges, Campbell confessed to drinking before crashing the car and fleeing "because he was traumatized by seeing the state of (Patel) after the crash."

Campbell's driving record includes five convictions for what the criminal complaint calls "serious speed," as well as convictions for possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle, careless driving, and a January conviction for a hit-and-run from which he fled, according to the charges.

An official at the Hennepin County jail said Campbell's booking photo was being withheld from the public for investigative reasons.