Maple Grove woman charged in crash resulting in deaths of high school students

By Sarah Burghardt

Sun Focus Newspapers

A Maple Grove woman has been charged in the crash that resulted in the deaths of two Mounds View High School students in December.

The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office charged Rachel Kayl, 32, with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide May 11. Charges are in connection with the Dec. 1 deaths of Mounds View High School students Stephanie Carlson and Bridget Giere.

The crash occurred at the intersection of Highway 96 West and Highway 10 in Arden Hills at 7:02 a.m. while the girls were on their way to school.

Charges have been issued to the driver that caused the crash that resulted in the death of two Mounds View High School students Bridget Giere and Stephanie Carlson on Dec. 1. (Sun Focus photo by Sarah Burghardt)

Carlson and Giere were traveling with a third student Samantha Redden who was the driver and sustained life-threatening injuries. Both Carlson and Giere died at the scene. The girls were traveling in a Chevrolet Equinox.

According to the criminal complaint, Kayl was driving a Chevrolet Trailblazer to her job as a nanny in Shoreview, traveling eastbound on 96. Kayl’s vehicle collided with Redden’s as the Equinox was attempting a left turn from westbound 96 to southbound Old Highway 10. Witnesses reported that the force of the collision caused the Equinox to roll over and came to a rest in an upright position on the grass just southeast of the intersection.

Crash Data Retrieval software tracked Kayl’s vehicle traveling at 81-82 miles per hour before the crash, the complaint stated. The posted speed limit is 50 miles per hour. Kayl has no criminal history, although she has had four prior speeding citations from 2005 to 2013, according to the complaint.

Kayl denied access to investigators to analyze her cell phone, the complaint said. While cell phone records indicate that no calls or texts were made at the time of the collision, those records would not show any applications or Internet access use.

No impairment of the driver is suspected.

Sergeant Daniel Dixon of the Minnesota State Patrol indicated in the crash reconstruction report that if the Trailblazer was traveling at the posted speed limit, the Equinox would have had enough time to clear the intersection. Dixon also concluded that Redden would have had a difficult time assessing the high speed of the Trailblazer, determining that the primary contributing factor in the crash was the Trailblazer’s excessive speed.

“This tragedy, which caused terrible grief for the victims’ families, friends and community, was entirely preventable,” said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi. “As drivers, each of us takes on a personal and legal responsibility when we get behind the wheel of an automobile. We will work to bring justice in this case.”

If convicted, Kayl could face a maximum sentence of 10 years. She is scheduled to appear in Ramsey County District Court May 12.

Contact Sarah Burghardt at sarah.burghardt@ecm-inc.com.