Student charged in drunk driving death

John Peterson was charged in Kandyce Stoffel’s death.

Katherine Lymn

The Hennepin County AttorneyâÄôs office filed vehicular homicide charges Tuesday against University of Minnesota student John R. Peterson in the death of former student Kandyce Stoffel, 23.

Peterson, also 23, had a blood alcohol content of .164 âÄî more than twice MinnesotaâÄôs legal driving limit âÄî when he hit Stoffel and a companion early Sunday morning near Dinkytown.

In the criminal complaint, a witness reports Stoffel and Peterson had interacted at a bar the same night of the accident. Peterson “had been attempting to âÄòhit onâÄô ” Stoffel, but she turned him down and allegedly felt uncomfortable about his advances, according to the complaint.

Peterson, of Maplewood, Minn., was charged with four offenses âÄî two counts of criminal vehicular homicide for the death of Stoffel and two counts of criminal vehicular operation for the injuries to Travis Smith, 25, who was with Stoffel.

Each offense carries two counts because Peterson violated Minnesota statutes against both driving “in a grossly negligent manner” and “in a negligent manner while under the influence” of alcohol.

Peterson hit the couple at approximately 3 a.m. Sunday at the intersection of Fourth Street and 12th Avenue Southeast. Peterson hit Stoffel and Smith as they were walking on the street where there was no sidewalk because of the construction of 412 Lofts.

Multiple witnesses said visibility that night was poor.

“It was dark, there was no lighting there and it was raining,” said witness Venkat Dayala, who was walking 30 feet from the collision when it happened.

Dayala said he saw two people of the four-person group make it safely across the street, but Stoffel and Smith were hit and “flew and landed like three feet” away from him.

“I think the guy [Smith] was trying to give the girl [Stoffel] a piggyback ride or something,” Dayala said. “They were in the middle of the road âÄî I think she was trying to hop on him or something like that âÄî and then the car comes and hits them.”

Witness Casey Taube said it looked like the car had “almost hit a pothole” because of how it “dipped down” after hitting Stoffel.

University student Megan Sheley was walking in front of the group when she heard the sound of the crash.

“I turned around and I saw the two people laying in the street, and then the driver got out of his car,” she said.

“He didnâÄôt have a shirt on âĦ I donâÄôt know why. I think he was just in shock and didnâÄôt know what he was doing,” Sheley said of Peterson. “He had his hands on his head and he was hovering over the girl and yelling âÄòPlease wake up!âÄô “

Officers noticed PetersonâÄôs pants were wet near his waist when they interviewed him at the scene, according to the complaint.

Peterson is currently in jail under $150,000 bail.

The College of Education and Human Development announced Tuesday that it would grant Stoffel a posthumous degree, according to the Star Tribune.