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Charges: Driver who killed 55-year-old pedestrian says she thought she'd hit a deer

The 30-year-old has been charged with two traffic crimes.
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Breyona cotton

The driver of a car that hit and killed a 55-year-old woman in Inver Grove Heights this past winter told police she'd thought she'd hit a deer.

However, charges against Breyona Cotton, 30, of Inver Grove Heights, state that there could have been little doubt that she hit a person on the evening of Jan. 5 at 80th Street and Blaine Avenue.

The collision killed 55-year-old Haimanot Gezahegne Gebremedhin, with a criminal complaint revealing that a reconstruction by the State Patrol concluded that her legs struck the front bumper of Cotton's car, "forcing her entire body onto the hood and her head struck the lower portion of the windshield."

"The report concluded that the victim should have been visible to the driver of the vehicle that struck her and that any reasonable investigation into the collision would have revealed the victim's body," it adds.

Cotton presented herself to police the next day, after she had learned from friends of the crash as a result of the subsequent news coverage.

She told officers that she had just come from a nearby McDonald's drive-thru and was traveling at around 40 mph on 80th Street, before hitting something "out of nowhere" as she went through a green light.

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After the collision, she turned onto Blaine Avenue and stopped, but didn't hear or see anything, and didn't get out of her vehicle as she believed she'd hit a deer. She then drove home.

She has been charged with leaving the scene of a collision resulting in death and failure to notify police of a deadly crash. Both are felonies.

"Any driver who strikes an object has an obligation to reasonably investigate what was struck and remain at the scene when the collision results in injury to or the death of a person." said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom in a press release.

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