Criminal charge in Coon Rapids hit and run case downgraded

Two felony criminal vehicular operation charges filed against a Coon Rapids woman following a hit-and-run incident in the city in June of 2012 were reduced to one gross misdemeanor count in a plea agreement Dec. 9 in Anoka County District Court.

Jessica Ann Hegenbarth, 25, entered a guilty plea to a gross misdemeanor charge of criminal vehicular operation for operating a vehicle with negligence while under the influence of alcohol.

Hegenbarth, who also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor DWI count, will be sentenced Feb. 19, 2014.

The early hours of June 30, 2012 Coon Rapids Police responded to a 911 call of a suspected hit and run on the 11400 block of Xavis Street where a man had awakened in extreme pain, was severely injured and thought he had been hit by a car.

Locating the man in the bedroom of his home near the 11400 block of Xavis, officers observed that he had significant chunks of skin missing from his skull, back and arms.

According to medical records, the man had pelvic fractures, a fractured left humerus, two rib fractures and a fractured right clavicle. He also had to undergo several skin grafts to cover tissue that had been scraped off his skull, arms and back.

In several statements, the man could only recall that he had been at a local bar with friends, including Hegenbarth, and she drove him home, stopping the car three times to vomit.

He said he told Hegenbarth that she should not continue to drive, then got out of the car and that was the last thing he remembered until he woke up in the street injured.

On the street outside the man’s home, officers located his shoes and a broken watch and observed markings, leading from this area for some 94 feet, which contained blood and flesh deposits, as well as clothing fragments, that were consistent with a person being dragged down the road, and culminated in several large pools of blood.

A person who had been at the bar with Hegenbarth and the victim said that both were very intoxicated and that when he left, Hegenbarth was going to drive the man home and when he tried to persuade Hegenbarth not to drive because she was so intoxicated, he was unable to convince them.

Later in the morning of the incident, police spoke with Hegenbarth, who admitted to being at the bar with the victim and the other man, and that she was extremely intoxicated.

She remembered she was going to drive the victim home, but had no recollection of the trip other than at one point waking up behind the wheel and discovered that she had vomited on herself and urinated.

The car was stopped, but the dash and gauge lights were on, so Hegenbarth said that she put the car in gear, it ran strangely for the first block, then seemed fine, so she drove home.

Hegenbarth told police she had no recollection of the evening during a three-hour time span from about 2 a.m. until she arrived home about 5:15 a.m.

She gave police permission to examine the underneath of her car and officers observed hair and blood on the control arm, according to the complaint.

The car was impounded and a forensic examination was conducted, which revealed hair, blood and flesh samples as well as clothing fragments on the underside of the car.

In addition, officers examined grease markings on the victim’s clothing and similar grease patterns that had been rubbed off the underside of Hegenbarth’s car and the complaint states that the evidence was conclusive that Hegenbarth’s car was the one that struck the man.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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