An SUV being pursued by the State Patrol plowed onto a Minneapolis playground Monday morning and hit three young siblings, severely injuring two of them.
The patrol tried to stop the SUV for speeding on Interstate 94, but it took off, exited the freeway and drove through a neighborhood before tearing through the tennis courts and a swing set outside Jenny Lind Elementary School.
“The suspect crashed into a group of kids,” said State Patrol Capt. Jason Bartell.
One child was in critical condition, another stable, according to a family member. The third child was less seriously hurt, according to the patrol.
The driver of the SUV, Kabaar W. Powell, 27, of Richfield, fled but was quickly apprehended, taken to North Memorial Medical Center with noncritical injuries and then jailed, according to the patrol.
Kayden Peltier, 2, and Lillianna Peltier, 4, were the most severely injured, the patrol said. Konnor Peltier, 3, was less seriously hurt.
All are from St. Paul. A spokeswoman for North Memorial said Monday that the hospital was not releasing information about their conditions.
The children and other siblings were being watched by their father, Kyle Peltier, while their mother, Nicolle, was taking a test for a class, an aunt of the children told the Star Tribune.
Devin Brinkley said Kayden was in critical condition heading into surgery Monday night, while Lillianna was stable but had bleeding on the brain. Brinkley was unsure of Konnor’s condition.
At a news conference at the scene, Bartell said a second trooper joined the chase, which started shortly after 9:30 a.m. The driver exited I-94 at 53rd Avenue N. and kept going until he reached the school, which sits between Bryant and Dupont Avenues N. and north of 50th Avenue.
Authorities have not said how fast the troopers or the SUV were going on either the interstate or in the neighborhood.
Two troopers were slightly hurt while apprehending Powell, who was jailed without bail on suspicion of criminal vehicular operation and fleeing police.
A gun was found in the vehicle, the patrol said, and a trooper loaded a stroller into the back of his vehicle.
According to dispatch audio, the same vehicle was pursued by law enforcement authorities on Friday, but that chase was stopped before officers caught up with the driver.
The State Patrol’s policy on chases lists numerous circumstances under which a pursuit must be discontinued, including “when there is a clear and unreasonable danger to the trooper, fleeing motorist or other persons.”
A trooper should also “give strong and continuing consideration to cutting off a pursuit when the suspect is wanted for a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony or when the suspect can be positively identified.”
The State Patrol did not immediately respond to a request for an interview about whether its policy was followed on Monday.
At the news conference Monday, Bartell said: “Every situation is different. That’s up to the state trooper or the supervisor that’s listening to the radio at the time.”
Powell’s criminal history includes a conviction in 2015 for driving with a suspended license.
He has other traffic convictions dating back to 2010 for twice not having the proper license for the type of vehicle he was operating, for speeding and for driving without insurance.
Celeste Levie, who lives close to the playground, said she spoke with a pastor who came to the scene.
“She stopped and prayed with us,” said Levie. The pastor was concerned about the fate of one of the children in particular, she said.
Levie said she has lived in that part of north Minneapolis since 2001 and described it as “a nice neighborhood. We’re kind of tucked away up here. This is shocking and hurtful for us.”