Two siblings accused of racing each other prior to a crash that killed a young couple in Burnsville in April have been charged.
Camille Dennis-Bond, 19, of Burnsville, and her brother, Leon Bond, 18, are accused of drag racing each other prior to the crash that killed Tayler Garza, 22, of Woodbury, and Dalton Lee Ford, 22, of Burnsville, on County Road 42 on April 4.
Prosecutors allege Bond and Dennis-Bond, each with passengers in their respective vehicles, were racing at speeds nearing 100 mph when Bond crashed into a Honda CRV that was crossing the highway.
The Honda, with Ford and Garza inside, split in half. The young couple was pronounced dead at the scene.
Dennis-Bond is charged with two counts of third-degree murder, two counts of criminal vehicular homicide, and one count of criminal vehicular operation resulting in great bodily harm.
Prosecutors have filed a delinquency petition and a petition for adult certification against Bond, charging him with the same crimes. Bond was 17 at the time of the crash, so Minnesota law requires he be prosecuted as a juvenile unless the court certifies him as an adult.
According to the criminal complaint, Dennis-Bond and Bond were speeding on eastbound County Road 42 between Burnsville Parkway and Newton Avenue just before 10:32 a.m. on April 4.
As Bond approached Newton Avenue, a Honda CRV pulled into the left turn lane on westbound County Road 42 to cross over the eastbound lanes to turn onto Newton Avenue.
That's when Bond T-boned the Honda, causing it to split in half. Dennis-Bond, who was slightly behind Bond, "just missed" hitting the Honda, charges said.
Ford, who was driving the Honda, and Garza, who was in the front passenger seat, died at the scene.
Bond and his passenger, identified as his twin sister CMB, were taken to the hospital, with CMB suffering "significant" injuries in the crash and police were told she may not survive, charges stated.
CMB was hospitalized for more than a month and had to undergo at least five surgeries for her injuries, which included a traumatic brain injury, respiratory failure, vertebrae fracture, neck fracture, a broken leg, a broken arm, injuries to her arteries and kidney, the complaint says.
In an interview with police, Bond said before the crash he and Dennis-Bond had a brief conversation while stopped at a stoplight at Burnsville Parkway about whose vehicle could get to 50 mph the fastest, the complaint said. As he was driving, he saw the Honda before it turned, saying the driver hesitated before speeding across the intersection. Bond said he sped up, possibly to 90 mph, in an effort to avoid colliding with the Honda.
Dennis-Bond told police she, Bond and CMB were at LH's home in Savage and left to go to Dennis-Bond's home in Burnsville, charges said. She was driving LH. At the stoplight, Dennis-Bond told investigators she told Bond not to drive faster than 55 or 60 mph, adding she reminds him all the time to slow down.
Dennis-Bond said she saw the Honda "gas it" and pull out at "full speed" to turn in front of Bond's vehicle. Bond tried to go around the Honda, but couldn't because the driver of the Honda had "gassed it," charges said. She said the driver of the Honda wouldn't have been able to see Bond's vehicle because it was blocked by Dennis-Bond's vehicle.
She said she was traveling at 65-67 mph and she braked close to where the Honda was in the turn lane, charges said.
LH admitted to police the drivers were driving at speeds of 90 mph, the complaint alleges.
The criminal complaint says surveillance footage from a business in the area of the crash refutes the siblings' account of what happened. The video shows Ford driving the Honda slowly into the left turn lane, and without stopping turning left to cross eastbound County Road 42 onto Newton Avenue.
Bond, who was driving in the center lane, hit the Honda about 2-3 seconds after the Honda crossed onto the eastbound side of the highway, the complaint says. Dennis-Bond's vehicle, which was in the left lane, then passed by, narrowly missing the Honda as Bond crashed into it.
Witnesses said Bond and Dennis-Bond were "racing" prior to the crash, with one witness saying Bond's vehicle was driving "incredibly fast" before hitting the Honda that "basically turned into powder and split in half," charges said. Another witness estimated the two vehicles were going 100 mph.
The Minnesota State Patrol did a crash reconstruction in September. The report found that Bond's vehicle had significant front-end damage and the Honda was split in half between the pillars that separate the front and back seat sections of the vehicle, the complaint said. Bond's vehicle was traveling between 93 and 100 mph when he hit the Honda. Five seconds before the crash, Bond was traveling 114 mph.
Bond and Dennis-Bond were traveling at speeds of 41-64 mph over the posted speed limit of 50 mph, with the State Patrol concluding the primary contributing factor for the crash was Bond's excessive speed and a secondary contributing factor was Dennis-Bond's vehicle "racing" with Bond, charges state.
Dennis-Bond made her first court appearance last week, where bail was set at $300,000. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 24.
“My deepest sympathy is extended to the family and friends of Tayler Garza and Dalton Ford for their great loss," Dakota County District Attorney Kathy Keena said in a statement. "This case serves as a somber reminder of the danger of driving at excessively high speeds."
This year, as of Oct. 24, there have been more than 400 traffic-related deaths on Minnesota roads, which is a 25% increase over last year at this time. The largest contributing factor in fatal crashes is speed, with 103 of the 402 most recent traffic deaths being speed-related — a 33% increase from this time last year and a 106% increase from this time in 2019, Keena said.