Jose Hernandez Solano had just left his job as a dishwasher at Brasa Rotisserie. He was headed home on his bicycle – with lights both front and back – when he crossed the intersection of Grand and West 7th in St. Paul.
That’s when an SUV ran a red light and hammered him.
Hernandez Solano, 52, would cling to life for two more weeks before dying Dec. 7 at Regions Hospital.
St. Paul police reconstructed the crash scene; evidence showed the SUV to be a Hyundai Sante Fe, made between 2008 and 2010. The cops also got word that a similar SUV was frequently parked near Keenan’s Bar, not far away.
Just a few minutes after the 12:10 a.m. collision, Abbey Hegner, a bartender at Keenan’s, announced that a family emergency required her to leave, according to police. She would later tell her boss that her son’s girlfriend was threatening suicide.
According to a search warrant obtained by the Pioneer Press, a witness said Hegner’s son, Dustin Hegner-Royce, arrived at the bar about four minutes after the accident. A gas station video also appears to have captured the SUV as well as someone resembling Hegner-Royce.
After leaving work, Abbey Hegner remained on the move that night, according to cell phone records, traveling St. Paul and its southern suburbs and calling both her son and the mother of his girlfriend.
But when the pair was arrested in mid-December, Hegner had a different story to tell. She told detectives she left work to help a granddaughter, not deal with her son’s suicidal girlfriend.
She also claimed to have sold the Hyundai before the incident, though she apparently has no records of doing so. The SUV was sold to a Mexican or Somali man whose English she couldn’t understand, Hegner told police, but detectives have yet to locate it.
Mother and son were eventually released without charges, but documents suggest police remain suspicious.
When detectives showed up at Hegner-Royce’s home, they noted that his girlfriend said “she knew why they were there.” Hegner was also caught on a jail phone telling someone that the cops didn’t have any evidence.
Police say the investigation continues.
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