Five young women were killed in a car wreck on Friday in south Minneapolis, and a search warrant filed that night revealed the suspected driver had rented the vehicle less than half an hour before the tragedy. The Minnesota state trooper who submitted the warrant application stated that at 10:09 p.m. on Interstate 35W, he detected a Cadillac Escalade traveling at 95 miles per hour on his radar.
To get off at 31st Street, the Cadillac allegedly swerved from the far left lane onto the right side of the highway while the trooper followed. The Cadillac sped through the 31st Street junction, up Second Avenue, and into Lake Street, where it collided with a Honda Civic when its driver ran a red light. On the spot, all five people inside the Honda were pronounced dead.
The warrant states that Derrick John Thompson, 27, the presumed driver of the Cadillac, fled the scene of the accident and was later located at a Taco Bell a block away. He had a damaged hip and a laceration on his head, and he was sweating and short of breath.
State trooper X spotted Thompson speeding down I-35W just 23 minutes after he hired the Cadillac from Hertz at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport at 9:46 p.m., according to the rental paperwork found on the Cadillac’s floor. A bag of what seemed to be marijuana was also discovered.
After Thompson was injured, he was taken to the hospital, where doctors obtained a search order to test his blood for drugs. On Monday, he was taken into custody and sent to the Hennepin County Jail on murder charges.
A representative from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office stated a charging decision was expected by noon on Wednesday, but no charges had been filed as of that time.
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A History of Driving-related offenses
Before being reinstated on June 7, 2018, less than two weeks before the crash, Thompson’s Minnesota driver’s license had been revoked in 2018. Despite a lengthy criminal driving record in both Minnesota and California, he was awarded a valid driver’s license in both states.
After his conviction for causing a hit-and-run accident in California, in which a woman was seriously injured, he spent fewer than four years behind bars. His criminal history in Minnesota includes convictions for trafficking in controlled substances in 2016, escaping from law enforcement in 2017, and driving after revocation this year.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety was contacted by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS to comment on the process by which Thompson was able to have his license renewed. A DPS official stated Tuesday night that they were still compiling the data.
According to a representative from Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services, the department checks a national database to ensure that applicants for driver’s licenses do not have their privilege to operate a motor vehicle suspended or revoked in any other state.
A representative from DVS explained in an email that “if someone in Minnesota has a certain violation, they must meet the license withdrawal timeline and reinstatement requirements outlined by state statutes depending on the violation” before getting their driving privileges restored.
The tweet below verifies the news:
A search warrant filed the night of the crash that killed five young women Friday in south Minneapolis reveals the alleged driver had rented a car less than half an hour before the collision. https://t.co/2nNLhcJAIN
— KSTP (@KSTP) June 20, 2023
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS contacted a number of state legislators to inquire as to whether or not the topic of driver’s license reinstatements should be taken up by the legislature. No one would speak on the record.
A woman in the Twin Cities has taken to Twitter to bring attention to the problem of the ease with which those convicted of major crimes can obtain their licenses restored. “The thread was fueled just by my anger.”
🧵 For those wondering how someone convicted of a hit-and-run that put a woman in a coma and sentenced to 8 years in prison in 2020 was out and driving around *licensed* in 2023, let me introduce you to the absurdity of how vehicular crimes are charged and sentenced. https://t.co/Hxd2UGnDY4
— Colleen Kelly (@onecolleen) June 20, 2023
r Tuesday tweets. In 2021, while visiting the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis, her daughter Anya was killed when a careless vehicle struck her. She claims that the perpetrator in this case had a suspended license at the time of the incident but that he was able to legally drive again after his conviction.
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By way of Twitter, Kelly stated, “getting a license back after this type of crime is completely normal.”
Kelly expressed his anger even further in an interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
She opined that license suspension was pointless because of this. “It really doesn’t mean anything.”
She tweeted case after example of terrible car accidents that occurred before and after license revocations.
A “trail of destruction I can’t even begin to describe” is what she said following a crash like that.
Despite this, Thompson was able to fulfill Hertz’s requirements for car rental. Renters must be at least 20 years old and in possession of a valid driver’s license and credit card, as stated on the company’s website.
A Hertz representative claimed in a statement that their MSP Airport office is “cooperating fully” with the police inquiry, but the representative would not further.
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