Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena announced that Alejandro Jesus Saavedra, age 21 of Farmington, has been charged* with one count of Criminal Vehicular Homicide (Gross Negligence) and one count of Criminal Vehicular Operation Resulting in Great Bodily Harm (Gross Negligence), in connection with the fatal crash in Burnsville on April 9, 2022 that killed 16-year-old Sydney Kohner, and injured a 15-year-old girl, both of Rosemount. Saavedra made his first appearance today in Dakota County District Court.
A summary of the allegations contained in the criminal complaint is set forth below:
On April 9, 2022, around 6:10 a.m., Burnsville Police Officers responded to a hotel on a noise complaint. While driving through the parking lot of the hotel, an officer observed a male and two younger females running through the parking lot, but then lost sight of the group. The officer observed a white Lexus parked in the lot with its headlights and taillights illuminated. The driver was leaning back in the driver's seat as if trying to avoid detection by the officer. The driver next quickly backed out of the parking spot and accelerated at a high rate of speed out of the hotel parking lot. The officer followed.
The Lexus turned westbound on Fairview Drive without slowing down for the intersection. At the intersection of Fairview Drive and Nicollet Avenue, the vehicle travelled through red lights for southbound Nicollet Avenue traffic without slowing down. The officer observed the vehicle take a sharp right turn off Nicollet Avenue onto Grand Avenue at a high rate of speed, striking at least one curb as it turned and accelerated onto Grand Avenue. The officer observed a tire from the vehicle dislodge and roll into the roadway. The officer ultimately lost sight of the Lexus as it accelerated onto Grand Avenue and alerted dispatch to request assistance of other officers in an attempt to locate the Lexus.
Officers soon located the Lexus off the roadway on the south side of a USPS parking ramp. The Lexus would have missed the turn, continued straight off of eastbound Grand Avenue and struck a concrete pillar of the parking ramp. The engine compartment and engine block were crushed and crumpled. Officers located a male driver, identified as Alejandro Saavedra, pinned in the driver's seat, who was conscious and alert. First responders worked to extricate Saavedra. Officers observed two unconscious juvenile females in the backseat. The 15-year-old victim was transported to the Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance with serious injuries. The second female identified as 16-year-old Sydney Nicole Kohner, was declared deceased at the scene due to the severity of her injuries.
Additional facts pertaining to this case can be found in the criminal complaint at Criminal Complaint Search. If in custody, a mug shot can be viewed at Inmate Search.
Bail was set in the amount of $250,000 without conditions ($150,000 with conditions) by Dakota County District Court Judge David Lutz. Saavedra's next court appearance is scheduled for April 28, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. in Hastings.
Keena commented: “Along with our law enforcement partners, my deepest sympathy is extended to the family and friends of Sydney Kohner for their great loss." Keena also extended her thoughts for a full recovery to the injured 15-year-old passenger.
Keena thanked the Burnsville Police Department and the Minnesota State Patrol for their investigation of this crash. Alternative charges of criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation based on Saavedra's alcohol and drug use will be considered after the analysis of his blood sample is completed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
If you have questions, contact Kathy Keena at 651-438-4440.
*Criminal charges are not evidence of guilt. A defendant/suspect is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.