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Siblings struck in deadly Bloomington hit-and-run; woman charged

The superintendent of Richfield Public Schools said Donald Gayton Jr. and his sister Tamya were hit Friday night while walking near 12th Ave. and 78th Street.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Family, friends and community members gathered at an intersection in Bloomington Monday night to honor a student who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver, and to support his sister who is recovering from injuries. 

"No mother is supposed to bury her kid," said the pair's mother, Marsha Fugett. "No sister is supposed to sit there and hold her brother while he takes his last willing breath."

The Richfield Public Schools superintendent sent a message home to the families of students alerting them to the death of 17-year-old Donald Gayton, Jr. Superintendent Steven Unowsky said in his message that Gayton and his 14-year-old sister Tamya were walking near the intersection of 12th Ave. and 78th St. in Bloomington just after 6 p.m. Friday, Jan . 27 when they were hit by a vehicle, whose driver subsequently sped away.

Donald has since passed away from his injuries, while Tamya was released from the hospital. 

Bloomington police say the striking vehicle was located nearby, crashed on the 1900 block of Killebrew Drive. The driver, 27-year-old Mikala Ness of Oakdale, was taken into custody. On Monday afternoon, Ness was charged with criminal vehicular homicide while driving under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of a collision, according to court documents. On Tuesday, bail was set at $150,000 with conditions and $300,000 without conditions. An omnibus hearing is scheduled for Feb. 27.

Credit: Bloomington Police Department
Mikala Ness

Police say after Ness crashed her car she exited the driver seat and walked up to another vehicle and a driver let her inside to stay warm. Court documents show as he was calling 911 to report the accident, Ness started crying and made statements that she hit two people with her car and killed somebody.

Those documents also reveal Ness was coming from a holiday party. 

"You threw your life and my son's life away for a drink," said Fugett. "You'll get out, but my son got a life sentence."

Fugett described her son as a class clown who loved to help people. Their friends say Tamya and Donald were inseparable. Police say the two crossed the street that night because the sidewalk was covered in snow. 

"They're so close, they have like the best sister and brother bond," said their friend Zion Smith. "It's just hard just to know you'll never see them again."

Police ask that anyone with additional information call 952-563-4900. 

The Richfield superintendent shared that the Gayton family has been part of Richfield Schools for many years, with siblings currently attending elementary, middle and high school. He shared words from a school social worker who has known the Gaytons for a number of years. 

“I have had the privilege of coming to know the students and family over the past few years," said Chantelle Vaughn. "I have known them to be a loving and connected family and I cannot imagine the heartache they are experiencing right now. As a Richfield community, may they know we are here for them as we hold them in our hearts.”

School officials remind parents that children may have questions and want to talk when a classmate dies suddenly. They also say the district is ready to provide additional support if needed.

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