Driver charged with manslaughter in Falcon Heights crash that killed pediatric nurse – Twin Cities

A woman was driving over 100 miles per hour and was under the influence of drugs when she crashed into a parked car, ran off the road and hit a pedestrian in Falcon Heights, according to charges filed against her this week.

Abigail Anderson (courtesy of the Anderson family)

Abigail Anderson, 29, was killed in the Falcon Heights crash in August. She was a registered pediatric nurse and runner, sister of professional runner Gabriele “Gabe” Grunewald. Grunewald died in June 2019 at the age of 32 after living for 10 years with adenoid cystic carcinoma. Both were athletes at the University of Minnesota.

The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office identified the driver as Melinda Jean Dotray, 45. After a toxicology report returned on Dec. 7 and reconstruction of the accident was completed Wednesday, authorities charged Dotray with manslaughter, criminal vehicular murder and drug possession. She had been in custody at the Ramsey County Jail since Thursday.

“Abby Anderson’s family sees the prosecution of Melinda Dotray as a positive step forward in getting justice for Abby whose life was tragically and needlessly cut short,” Anderson family attorney Philip Sieff said in a statement. “Abby’s family is committed to justice and responsibility so that no other family ever has to endure the pain and suffering they have experienced and will experience forever.”

At 6:45 PM on Aug. 14, sheriff’s deputies at the Les Bolstad golf course on Larpenteur and Cleveland Avenues responded to a report of a woman being hit by a truck. A soccer game was going on at the University of Minnesota soccer stadium, Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium. Golfers and people at the football game rushed to help Anderson, including medical professionals who were at the game.

Officers learned that Dotray was driving a Chevrolet Silverado pickup when she collided with a Honda Civic parked on the Cleveland Avenue side. According to the indictment, there was “catastrophic damage” to the Civic.

Dotray’s vehicle went through a fence and onto the golf course. Anderson was hit in the crash and later run over by Dotray as she drove the Silverado off the golf course and back onto the road, the complaint said.

The same officers and initial investigators of the case went to Preston, Minnesota, south of Rochester, on Thursday to arrest Dotray.

In a “case this tragic, it helps to send a message to the family that, ‘We’re thinking of you and we’re here to give you a sense of justice,'” said Ramsey County Undersheriff Mike Martin.

‘THUNDER ATTACK’

Several witnesses told investigators what they saw.

One golfer said “he heard a thunderous impact” and saw Anderson fly 30 to 40 feet into the air before landing on the golf course. The truck driver made “an aggressive U-turn” and he thought she ran over Anderson.

A person at the football game said halftime had just begun and everyone in the stands looked toward the crash when they heard it. He asked the person sitting next to him, “Oh my God – is that a person in the grass?” and said he saw Anderson move a little before the truck ran over Anderson.

Meanwhile, a passenger in a vehicle on Cleveland Avenue said she saw Anderson walking on the grass next to the fence because there was no sidewalk. She said Anderson was about 10 feet away when the pickup hit the car, and both vehicles hit Anderson.

Witnesses said Dotray drove back to Cleveland Avenue, and a man who thought she was going to drive off took the key from the ignition.

Melinda Jean Dotray (courtesy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

Paramedics took Anderson to Regions Hospital, where she died that night from multiple traumatic injuries.

Anderson, of Minneapolis, worked for Children’s Minnesota for eight years. She continued her education at the University of Minnesota and received her doctorate in nursing.

Anderson spent countless hours organizing, raising funds and participating in the Brave Like Gabe Foundation, the nonprofit founded by her sister, to raise awareness for cancer research, her brother previously said.

SPEED, PARTICULAR CRASH FACTORS

Officers detained Dotray after the crash and she dozed in the back of a patrol car.

“Dotray said she felt bad and she wasn’t trying to run.”
the scene – she was just trying to get off the golf course,” the indictment said. “Dotray later said, ‘You know what’s the worst? I told my husband I was tired, and he asked if we should leave the truck there, and I said, ‘No, it’ll be fine’. Dotray also said to the officers that she was dozing off and that she should have stopped, but she was just too tired.”

It was not immediately known on Thursday whether Dotray has a lawyer. The sheriff’s office said she was living in Rockford, Minnesota at the time of the accident.

The detectives were ordered to search the pickup. They found locks of hair in the front bumper and drugs in the glove box that later tested positive for methamphetamine and weighed 1.73 grams, the complaint said.

The results of Dotray’s blood test came back from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Dec. 7 and showed amphetamine, methamphetamine and fentanyl in her system, the complaint said.

A Minnesota State Patrol trooper filed a report Wednesday of a review of data from the Silverado showing the vehicle was traveling as fast as 64 mph. The speed limit is 40 mph and there was no evidence of braking before the crash in the Civic, according to the complaint.

“The main contributing factors to the crash were Dotray’s inability to maintain lane keeping and excessive speed,” the complaint said. “A secondary factor was Dotray’s limitation — if she hadn’t ridden on the shoulder, the crash wouldn’t have happened.”

Dotray’s only criminal record in Minnesota is for driving with an expired license in 2013. She had a valid driver’s license at the time of the August accident, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

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