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1 Dead, 1 Hurt In Crash After Drunk Driver Flees Police

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- One person was killed and another was seriously hurt after a suspected drunk driver crashed into another car following a police chase in downtown Minneapolis, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

Lia Her
(credit: Hennepin County Jail)

Authorities said the crash happened just before 1 a.m. Monday on 4th Street SE and Central Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.

The State Patrol said a trooper initiated a traffic stop on a white 1997 Nissan Maxima for speeding and suspicion of drunk driving. After initially stopping, the driver waited until the trooper approached his vehicle before fleeing the scene through Minneapolis.

The trooper tried at least four times to use a pit maneuver to end the chase.

The suspected drunk driver, identified by authorities as 34-year-old Yia Her of St. Paul, crashed into a black 2000 Oldsmobile Intrigue at 4th Street and Central Avenue after an approximately three-minute chase.

That vehicle's driver was killed in the crash. Authorities said Her suffered non-life threatening injuries.

"It speaks to the nature of a crash at those speeds and also the nature of the recklessness of the suspect," said Lt. Eric Roeske, of the Minnesota State Patrol.

The victim was identified by authorities as 20-year-old Brody A. Sotona of Spring Valley, Wis. His passenger was 24-year-old Connor Macklin of Stillwater. Macklin was listed in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center as of noon Monday.

Sotona's family said their loss could've been avoided. In high school, Sotona was a standout student -- a member of city council, homecoming royalty and more.

He's still remembered by many at Spring Valley High School.

"Remember what a happy person he was and what a young man with a future and loved his arts and loved his sciences and music," said Superintendent of Spring Valley Public School, David Wellington.

Sotona moved to Minneapolis to study the arts at MCTC. He also played in a band. But his dreams were cut short Monday morning.

Sotona's family gathered to remember him at their home on Monday and while they declined to talk on camera, they released the following statement:

"Brody was a fun, loving, 20-year-old who enjoyed life to the fullest. Brody had a passion for music and his band 'Crush.' He loved to have a good time with friends and family and will be missed tremendously by them. The family would like to know why the Minnesota State Trooper pursued the suspect into a high-speed chase in downtown Minneapolis at 1 o'clock in the morning when it is quite clear that they already had the suspect's license plate and likely the name and address. If they would not have pushed him our Son and brother would still be alive today."

A family friend said Sotona's family has a tremendous support system to get through this difficult time.

It was not immediately known how fast Her's vehicle was going at the time of the crash. The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office is taking over the investigation.

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