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Mother and son charged in hit-and-run that killed St. Paul restaurant worker

The victim was popular restaurant worker Jose Hernandez Solano.
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What's happening?

A mother and son from St. Paul have been charged over the hit-and-run death of bicyclist Jose Hernandez Solano in late November.

Solano was biking home from his job at Brasa Rotisserie when he was struck by a car that had sped through a red light at an intersection.

That car was allegedly driven by Dustin Royce, of St. Paul, who has been charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide, while his mother Abbey Rose Hegner has been charged with two counts of aiding an offender.

What they're accused of

According to the criminal complaints, Royce was behind the wheel of his mother's Hyundai Sante Fe when he drove through a red light on West 7th Street and smashed into Hernandez, who was riding south on Grand.

After the collision, Royce went to find his mother, who was working a shift at Keenan's on West 7th Street, and came across her having a cigarette outside.

He walked up to her and said "Mom, I need you," before she went inside and told her bosses she had to leave because of a family emergency.

Police later traced her phone and found in the ensuing hours the car traveled all over the metro area at high speeds, ignoring traffic controls along the way.

Surveillance footage eventually helped trace the car to Hegner, but when interviewed in mid-December she told officers she'd sold the car for $3,000 four days before the fatal crash.

However, a search warrant executed at some property that Hegner rented turned up copies of the car's owner manual and paperwork.

Further review of Hegner's bank accounts showed no deposit of $3,000. As of this date, the car has yet to be recovered.

'Solano did everything right'

Solano was an avid biker and according to Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, "did everything right" on the night he died.

"He was obeying traffic laws, wearing a safety helmet and had lights on the front and back of his bike – and yet he lost his life," he said in a news release.

"We will do everything we can to hold these defendants accountable for their actions and bring a sense of justice to the victim’s family and our community.”

"Thanks to the hard work of our partners in Saint Paul police and prosecutors in our office, we were able to piece together the series of events that resulted in this senseless tragedy and charge the people responsible – both for the incident and subsequent attempts to cover it up,” he added.

“This case is tragic for so many reasons - a life was unnecessarily taken; a son, a father was lost in an instant by someone who wouldn't stop, help or take responsibility. It's heartbreaking,” said Saint Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell.

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