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A speeding driver was drunk when she hit teen siblings who were crossing the street while heading home from a store in Bloomington, killing one of them and seriously injuring the other, according to charges filed Monday.

Mikala J. Ness, 27, of Oakdale, was charged in Hennepin County District Court with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide — one for being under the influence of alcohol and the other for leaving the scene — and criminal vehicular operation, in connection with the crash shortly after 6 p.m. Friday near E. 78th Street and 12th Avenue S. in Bloomington.

A photo of Donald E. Gayton Jr.
A photo of Donald E. Gayton Jr.

Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Donald E. Gayton Jr., 17, died Sunday from severe head injuries, according to the charges. His sister, Tamya Lynn Gayton, 14, suffered serious injuries. They belong to a Richfield family with several children in that city's school district.

Just after 5 p.m. Monday, hours after Gayton's death was announced, about 100 of the Gaytons' friends from school and youth groups held a short vigil on the 78th Street block where the crash happened. They hugged each other and shivered as they clutched blue balloons. Police blocked the road so mourners could safely stand where the Gaytons had been walking before the crash.

Ness, of Oakdale, was located and arrested by officers more than a mile away after her car went off the road in the 1900 block of Killebrew Drive, police said.

According to the criminal complaint:

A woman told police she was driving on 78th Street between Portland and 12th avenues Friday when she saw Ness' car "pass her at a high rate of speed" and hit Tamya Gayton.

The woman pulled over to check on Tamya and then spotted Donald unconscious in the street. Emergency medical responders took both teenagers to HCMC.

A caller to 911 soon reported Ness' car in a crash off Killebrew Drive near the Mall of America, and that Ness was in the caller's car to stay warm. The caller said Ness confessed to him that she had hit two people and feared she had killed one of them.

Under questioning by police, Ness said she had left a holiday party but could not recall the location. Police noted that her speech was slurred and that she smelled of alcohol.

Asked whether she had hit something, she said: "I feel like I did, but I don't know."

Ness performed poorly during a police field sobriety test. A preliminary breath test measured her blood alcohol content at 0.13%, more than one and a half times the legal limit for driving in Minnesota.

Ness remained in jail Monday in lieu of $300,000 bail, and court records did not list an attorney for her. She is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.

Tamya Gayton told police from the hospital that she and her brother were walking back home after buying candy at the Walmart in Bloomington. She said the their path along eastbound 78th Street was snow-covered, "so they decided to walk on the side of the roadway," the complaint read. It was about an hour after sunset.

At some point, she continued, they decided to cross 78th to the other side of the street, and that's when Ness hit them. Tamya Gayton said she did not hear tires skidding, a horn honking or a car engine revving before they were struck, just before crossing a bridge over Interstate 494 that led back to their apartment.

The charges don't say where on the street the teens were crossing, but Deputy Police Chief Kimberly Clauson said "it does not appear to be at a designated crosswalk or crossing zone."

Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges said the crash was "completely preventable."

Richfield Public Schools' lead social worker, Chantelle Vaughn said she knows the family to be a loving and connected one. "I cannot imagine the heartache they are experiencing right now," Vaughn said in an email to school families. "May they know we are here for them as we hold them in our hearts."

Richfield Superintendent Steven Unowsky said the Gayton family has been part of the school community "for many years, with siblings currently attending elementary, middle and high school here."

At Monday's vigil, mourners said Donald Gayton Jr. was a sweet boy with a bright future.

"Quick to smile and include people, always willing to help, always willing to do more," said Mike Ashley of Tree House, a Christian youth group where Donald Jr. had been a member. Ashley thought of Donald Jr. as he set up a few propane heaters around the vigil for dozens of teenagers to warm their unmittened hands. "I was carrying these propane tanks and I said, 'This is a job Junior would have helped with.' "

Donald Jr. went by "Junior" most of his life, Ashley said, but over the last year he started asking people to call him Donald, to sound a little more grown-up.

Friends were quick to say how funny Donald was.

"No matter what it is, he always made me laugh," said Jay Brighamel.

After a few minutes of near-silence at the site of the crash, the mourners released their balloons — watching them float away in the cold became too much to bear — and then made their way back to their cars.

Correction: Previous versions of this story misstated Marsha Fugett’s name in photo captions, and the city of the accident.