HASTINGS, Minn. — An Inver Grove Heights woman was sentenced to 90 days in jail, and another month of home monitoring for her role in the death of a pedestrian in January of 2019.
Dakota County prosecutors say they are pleased that 32-year-old Breonna Sadi Cotton took responsibility for her actions at the wheel of a vehicle that struck and killed Haimanot Gezahegne Gebremedhin the night of January 5.
Cotton pleaded guilty to one felony count of leaving the scene of a collision resulting in death (that the driver did not cause). In exchange for that plea, a count of failure to notify police of a fatal collision was dropped.
Officers were dispatched to the intersection of Blaine Avenue and 80th Street the night of the incident after someone called to report what appeared to be a dead woman lying in the road. Responding officers located the 55-year-old Gebremedhin and attempted lifesaving efforts, but the victim was declared dead on the scene. The vehicle that struck her was gone.
Prosecutors say in the criminal complaint that the following day Cotton appeared at the Inver Grove Heights police department with her attorney. She told investigators that was was driving past the high school when she noticed two police cars in the parking lot, and looked down to check her speed. Cotton allegedly told officers that she was on 80th Street approaching Blaine Avenue when "out of nowhere" she heard a collision, and thought she had hit a deer. Cotton said she stopped but didn't see anything, and did not leave her vehicle.
Crash reconstruction specialists from the Minnesota State Patrol concluded that the victim’s legs struck the front bumper of Cotton’s car, forcing her entire body onto the hood with her head striking the lower portion of the windshield. The accident report concluded that the victim should have been visible to the driver (Cotton), and that any reasonable effort to see what she hit would have revealed the victim’s body.
“We are pleased Ms. Cotton took responsibility for her actions for her part in the death of Ms. Gebremedhin,” said acting Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena in a released statement.