23 March 2022
An unlicensed motorist has admitted to driving erratically along a busy downtown Minneapolis street last spring and hitting two pedestrians, killing one of them.
Thomas L. Hunter, 27, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty in Hennepin County District Court last week to criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation in connection with the evening crash on Marquette Avenue on May 24 that killed 62-year-old Steven Rice, of Burnsville, and seriously injured another pedestrian.
The guilty pleas come with no agreement on Hunter’s sentence. The defense and prosecution will make their recommendations to Judge Paul Scoggin during sentencing on June 30. In the meantime, Hunter remains jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Hunter had a revoked driver’s license status at the time of the crash, according to the state Department of Public Safety. His driving record in Minnesota includes one conviction for drunken driving, three for speeding and at least four for driving without a valid license.
According to the criminal complaint, based on witness accounts and surveillance video:
Hunter was driving a car north on Marquette Avenue and entered the valet bay of the Hilton Hotel before exiting onto southbound Marquette and coming to a halt “despite a constant flow of traffic,” the charging document read.
He then cut in front of a northbound vehicle and entered the valet bay a second time, exited onto northbound Marquette, passed traffic stopped at the red light at 10th Street and went through a red light on the wrong side of the road.
A vehicle heading east struck him in the intersection, sending Hunter’s car onto the sidewalk, where Rice and a second male on foot were hit, and sent through a large glass window. No other casualties were reported.
Rice worked as a health care administrator and health care consultant for Gallagher Benefit Services, based in suburban Chicago and whose Minneapolis offices are near the crash site at 9th and Marquette. Rice also served in the Army for 20 years, according to his online obituary. Survivors include his wife, his father, two daughters and two grandchildren.