ST PAUL, Minn. — St. Paul police say Phoua Thao Hang died on Sunday after the driver of a stolen vehicle rammed into the car she was riding in.
Officers are still looking for several suspects who they say ran from the scene that night.
Interim Police Chief Jeremy Ellison says the department has since reconstructed the crash scene, collected DNA samples and is combing through video evidence.
But her family, who spoke out for the first time Wednesday, says they are devastated.
"Phoua embodied and believed in human goodness and I personally know this to be true," says Gail Chang Bohr who is a senior judge for the State of Minnesota and longtime friend of Hang. "And like her family, I am devastated."
Bohr and the police department are pleading with the public for help in the case that rocked the community.
"This is a very tragic incident and it's unacceptable," said Chief Ellison.
He said Hang's car was hit Sunday night by an SUV that was stolen out of Minneapolis around dinner time. Other drivers reported it speeding and driving recklessly before the crash at this intersection just east of Highway 61.
"It's not just losing a member of our community, we lost a member of our family," said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter who has known the family for 20 years.
"To say that Mrs. Hang was an incredible individual would be an understatement," said Mayor Carter. "Anybody who spent time at the St. Paul farmers market could see that in the joy she put into the produce that she shared in those spaces."
Chief Ellison says there's no solid descriptions of the suspects, only that he knows more than one was seen running from the SUV.
"Our St. Paul Police Department is as good as anyone in the nation, anyone on the planet, at holding accountable those responsible for violence in our community," said Mayor Carter.
"Phoua Thao Hang was the singular most important person in our lives," said Bohr. "The light has gone out of our world."
Hang's husband was also hurt in the crash. Police say he was driving the car, but is home recovering.
If you know anything, call the St. Paul Police Department's traffic and pedestrian safety unit at 651-266-5656.
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