A Minnesota man, Michael Laurence Campbell, 21, who was "super drunk" as described by friends, crashed his car while driving at high speed on a highway Sunday morning. Campbell fled the scene of the accident, leaving his injured girlfriend, Ria Patel in the car, who soon died, a report said citing prosecutors.
On Thursday night, around 300 people gathered at the University of St. Thomas campus where Patel was a student, to mourn her tragic death. Among the grieving people were many of her friends and family members.
There were dozens of flower bouquets, lit tea candles and several photographs of Ria. Many of her friends shared memories of the deceased, recollecting how she would skip football games and how she was always a lively girl, Star Tribune reported.
"Students, faculty and staff are grieving the death of St. Thomas junior Ria Patel, who died in a car accident early the morning of Sept. 17. She was the daughter of Bharat and Devyani Patel of Eden Prairie, Minnesota," the university wrote on its website.
In an interview with KARE 11 an NBC affiliate, Patel's uncle, Hitesh Patel, said she was "probably one of the happiest girls ever." He also added that she loved to dance, both as a performer and teacher.
Ria's funeral will be held this weekend. A foundation on her name has been set up to spread awareness about drunk driving. "Drunk driving is a serious problem in our community and it is something that can and should be prevented. We, at the Ria Foundation, are doing everything we can to help raise awareness so that families don’t have to go through a tragic loss like we did," the website read.
Meanwhile, Campbell was charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide Wednesday. After the crash, investigators found his identification at the accident site and traced him to a residence in Wright County, Minnesota, two days later. Campbell was taken to a hospital and then to jail.
His bail was set at $250,000.
Charges on him stated that Campbell confessed to drinking before leaving his house with Patel. Friends revealed to the police that Campbell was in fact "super drunk" the last time they had seen him, reports said.
Past midnight Sunday, Campbell drove his vehicle, a Ford Focus, into a post in Minneapolis. The crash caused an attached traffic light to hit the passenger's side and it collapsed on the car, thereby crushing Patel. After this, Campbell told investigators that he was "traumatized by seeing the state" of Patel due to which he fled the scene.
A witness informed the police that she saw the vehicle hitting the post and a white male running away from the site. However, the male circled back and started digging around in the car. When he saw the witness, he asked her to call the police to which she replied, they were already on their way. Campbell then left the site again, Star Tribune reported.
Campbell has been involved in previous driving offenses such as a hit-and-run case in January for which he was serving probation. He has also been involved in speeding citations, possession of marijuana in a vehicle and violating a stop sign, according to the New York Daily News.