It was just before 4:00 a.m. Sunday that 20-year-old Ria Patel took her last breath. She was a promising St. Thomas student who had just started her junior year, killed when the car she was in plowed into a traffic light near the corner of Stinson Boulevard and Ridgeway Parkway in northeast Minneapolis.
Police arrived to find the young woman trapped in the car, freeing her and providing aid before she was pronounced dead by paramedics.
Her older brother, grieving by a makeshift memorial Monday near the spot where Ria spent her last moments, remembered her as a happy person, with the ability to light up any room she was in.
"She always had a smile on her face," Nishul Patel said. "[She was] the life of the party to be around, and I know every one of her friends and family would say that."
The driver of the car, however, was nowhere to be found, spurring a more than 24-hour long police search now involving the MPD's homicide unit.
A witness told authorities they saw a male run off on foot. A K9 officer tried and failed to locate the suspect, the disappearance adding insult to injury for Ria's friends and family.
"I'm not sure much about the relationship she had with this person," Nishul Patel said. "Whatever we can do in the Twin Cities to find him, that would be the best thing right now."
The incident is under investigation, and anyone with information is encouraged to call MPD at 612-692-8477.