A 21-year-old Farmington man has entered a guilty plea in connection to a crash that killed a teenage passenger and injured another person earlier this year.
The Dakota County Attorney's Office said Alejandro Jesus Saavedra pleaded guilty to one count each of criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation resulting in great bodily harm. The crash killed 16-year-old Sydney Kohner, a former student at Lakeville North High School. Fifteen-year-old Carmen Braun, from Rosemount, was injured in the April crash.
Saavedra is being held in custody without bail and will be sentenced Oct. 24.
The incident began in the early morning hours of April 9 when police responded to a noise complaint at a local hotel. An officer saw a man and two girls running through the hotel parking lot, but then lost sight of the group, according to charges.
Moments later, a driver sped out of the parking lot and turned westbound on Fairview Drive. With an officer following, the driver, Saavedra, ran a red light on Nicollet Avenue and made a sharp turn onto Grand Avenue at a high rate of speed, striking a curb.
The officer in pursuit lost sight of the vehicle as the driver accelerated northbound.
Soon after, police located the vehicle off the road on the south side of a USPS parking ramp. It appeared the vehicle had missed the turn, continued straight and crashed into a concrete pillar on the parking ramp. The engine compartment and engine block were "crushed and crumpled," according to police.
Kohner was pronounced dead at the scene. Braun was taken to the hospital to treat serious injuries.
On the way to the hospital, Saavedra told paramedics he'd used alcohol and marijuana prior to driving. Later on, he told police he'd also used cocaine at the hotel.
During a search warrant at the hotel, officers recovered alcohol, controlled substances and drug paraphernalia.
"The original officer who saw the male and two teenage females running in the parking lot confirmed they were the same individuals involved in the fatal crash," charges state.
In a statement to officers, Saavedra said he'd been attempting to avoid police when he left the hotel.
Saavedra faces up to 15 years in prison and $30,000 in fines.