Indian American student killed in hit-and-run

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Ria Patel

An Indian American University of St. Thomas student, Ria Patel, was killed in a car crash on Sunday, Sept. 17.

The driver of the car, Michael Laurence Campbell, who also happened to be her boyfriend, was arrested two days after and charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide.

According to a Twin Cities Pioneer Press report, an acquaintance said that Campbell was “super-drunk” when he left his home around 2 a.m. Sunday and crashed into a traffic pole at the Stinson Boulevard exit ramp off southbound Interstate 35W in Northeast Minneapolis at around 3:40 a.m.

“The entire passenger side of the car was crushed” in which Patel was seated and although Campbell didn’t try to help her out, he did go beck for his phone.

The report included that one witness told police that she saw a man, whom she later identified as Campbell, get out of the car and run to a nearby McDonald’s while she called 911.

Soon after, Campbell came back to the car, knelt down by the driver’s side and rummaged for something while Patel was slumped in the passenger seat.

The woman walked toward Campbell, and Campbell told her to call 911, when she told him that she already did, he ran off toward a Honeywell parking lot where a Honeywell employee told police that she saw a man matching Campbell’s description run through the parking lot holding a phone and he jumped over a fence along the interstate.

Police officers and dogs were unable to find him Sunday night, but they found his wallet at the scene, he was then arrested on Tuesday 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 for which his license was suspended for six months and revived in May.

Patel was the daughter of Bharat and Devyani Patel of Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

Her uncle, Hitesh Patel, said that she was “probably one of the happiest girls ever” and her cousin Raveena Patel, also a St. Thomas student said that she and Ria were “inseparable” and that her cousin was capable of making friends with anyone.

“I know her beautiful smile and personality will live in us and she will continue to look down at us and bless us from above,” Raveena said.

“She always knew how to light up the room wherever she would go. She brought people together in ways in so many different ways,” said student Jenny Jirsa.

A student-organized prayer vigil for Patel will be kept on Thursday at the university while her funeral is to be held on Saturday, the local BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir also held an Aarti and a Prarthana Sabha on Monday.