Charges: Driver fled because he was 'traumatized' by sight of dying girlfriend

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Michael Campbell, 21, was said to be 'super drunk' when he left his home driving with Ria Patel, his girlfriend. Facebook

 Michael Campbell's already spotty driving record has sustained the worst strike against it yet.

Campbell, 21, was charged late Wednesday afternoon with two counts of vehicular homicide, a felony, with one charge coming for "grossly negligent" reckless driving, and the other for leaving the scene of the accident. Both crimes carry a maximum penalty of a 10-year sentence and/or a $20,000 fine.

When police tracked him down on Tuesday, two days after the crash that killed Ria Patel, Campbell's girlfriend, he admitted to drinking before he got in his car that night, according to the Hennepin County Attorney's office complaint.

Patel, 20, was a student at the University of St. Thomas, where she was a junior majoring in finance. She is originally from London, and her parents reside in Eden Prairie.

Campbell's roommates, who had been with him and Patel hours before the accident, reported Campbell had been "super drunk" when they'd seen him.

Campbell's Ford Focus smashed into the semaphore holding up a traffic light on Stinson Boulevard in northeast Minneapolis some time after 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning, the complaint says. "The entire passenger side of the car was crushed" in the accident. The roof of the car had caved in on Patel's side, and a "large circular crack" had broken on her side of the windshield. Patel was found unresponsive, and despite emergency medical attention was declared dead at the scene.

That stretch of Stinson, near an I-35W off-ramp, has a speed limit of 30 miles an hour.

A witness to the crash's immediate aftermath saw Campbell running away from the car and toward a nearby McDonald's. Soon after he returned though, and was seen "kneel[ing] down" and "digging for something inside the driver's side area of the car." (Cops later found Campbell's wallet, with his drivers license in it, at the scene of the crash.) 

When Campbell noticed the bystander, he told her to call 911; informed that she already had, Campbell fled the scene again on foot.

Police found Campbell somewhere in suburban Wright County on Tuesday, and arrested him. He told the arresting cops he'd left the scene "because he was traumatized by seeing the state of [Patel] after the crash." 

Campbell is being held in Hennepin County Jail, and is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday. His mugshot is not being released at this time.

In the past, Campbell has numerous speeding convictions, plus a failure to stop, careless driving, and, earlier this year, a hit and run conviction for fleeing an accident.


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