Police search for driver in deadly Mpls. hit-and-run

11:47 PM, Oct 28, 2012   |    comments
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Austin Conley

MINNEAPOLIS -- Police are asking the public to help them find a driver involved in a fatal hit-and-run this weekend.

According to Minneapolis Police, officers were called to the scene of a hit-and-run accident at 3rd Street North and First Avenue in Minneapolis around 2:40 a.m. Saturday. Police say that when they arrived, they found Austin Conley, 20, had been struck by a vehicle travelling west on 3rd Street.

Conley was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in critical condition, where he later died from his injuries.

Freeman Carter and Dejon Wattley are Conley's close friends who were at his side at the time of the accident. They say Conley came to pick them up downtown after a night out. The three friends planned to spend the night at Conley's dorm, and were about to go home.

"I still don't believe it, I still want to go right now and knock on his dorm," said Carter, who said Conley was a student at Augsburg studying business management.

"Somebody threw a rock at his car, we immediately got out to see who threw the rock at the car," said Wattley.

When the friends didn't find trouble, they crossed the street at 3rd and First Avenue, but then tragedy turned the corner. The Chevy Lumina that killed Austin Conley never stopped.

"Just took off and hit 94 without slowing down at all," said Reverend Elliot Cook, of Brooklyn Park. "He or she didn't have any intentions of stopping."

Cook was on his way to pick up a slice of pizza when he watched the accident from the sidewalk. He says the car even nearly hit his own car as it fishtailed and headed for the freeway. The sight has left him with two sleepless nights, and a plea.

"The road to healing and recovery is to own up to what you have done and go on from there. If you have to get a lawyer, get a lawyer but please turn yourself in," said Cook.

Conley's friends, aren't sure yet if they can find forgiveness for a driver who took away a future.

"He was in college, doing music production stuff, he was inspirational," said Carter and Wattley. "Our friend did not deserve to die, our friend had a future. Our friend was making his family proud and wanted the best for everybody around him. I encourage you to turn yourself in and do the right thing."

That night, Conley even stopped in at his job, at Seven Sushi and Steak Ultralounge, to say hello to his co-workers, even though he wasn't on the clock.

"That is the kind of person he was, even if he wasn't working he stopped in to say hi to everybody," said Josh Lausche, a host who has worked with Conley for the past two years. He says Conley was a waiter assistant.

The job gave him a beginning, and his close friends say his dreams were not supposed to end in the center of a street.

"We are hurting every day, this cannot be reversed or taken back, whoever did it, God show no mercy upon their souls," said Carter.

Police say they currently do not have anyone in custody. They describe the suspect's vehicle as a dark-colored four-door sedan, possibly a Chevy Lumina, with front end damage.

Crimestoppers is offering up to a $1,000 reward for information leading to the driver. Call 1-800-222-TIPS or go to the Crimestoppers website.

Authorities are asking anyone with information about the accident to call (612) 673-2941.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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