Judge weighs impact of mental illness in crash that killed city worker

Tyler Lenort was killed while out doing snow removal for the city.

The woman who slammed her car into the back to a utility truck, killing a city worker who was out doing snow removal, was not hampered by a mental illness and unable to know right from wrong.

That's according to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, which said a judge Tuesday ruled 25-year-old Marie Hall understood her actions.

Hall was found guilty this fall in the death of Tyler Lenort, an equipment manager and 15-year employee with the city of Bloomington. He was along American Boulevard performing snow removal on Jan. 28 and had just gotten into the public works pick-up truck that was parked there when a speeding SUV rear-ended the truck, according to a CaringBridge page.

A coworker of Lenort was also in the truck at the time. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and spinal fractures.

Hall was charged days later, with the complaint saying she smelled of alcohol when she was rescued from her vehicle. She later indicated to police she was trying to end her life.

Hall had argued her mental illness (she'd been hospitalized multiple times in recent years due to it) made it difficult for her to know right from wrong when she hit the utility car, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office said.

But the judge ruled her actions before the crash conflict with that claim: She made sure intersection were clear before running red lights; moved around other cars on the street as she was speeding; and threw money in the air before leaving her former workplace with two bottles of vodka, suggesting she knew it was wrong to just steal the liquor.

Mental health in the U.S.

Mental illness is experienced by nearly one in five Americans (43.8 million people, about 18.5 percent of the population) every year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness says. That can range from things that have small impacts on daily life, to serious conditions.

About 10 million Americans (one in every 25 people) suffers from a serious mental illness each year, so much that it interferes with or limits major life activities.

And mental illness rates are extremely high among the 20 million or so Americans who deal with a substance use disorder; about half have a co-occurring mental illness.

Anyone who needs help dealing with a mental illness can call the NAMI helpline at 1-800-950-9264 (NAMI) Monday through Friday during normal business hours. Or you can reach the NAMI crisis line by texting NAMI to 741-741.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can also be reached 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

NAMI has more resources here.

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