21-year-old charged in Burnsville crash that killed Lakeville North student

A 21-year-old Farmington man has been charged in connection to a fatal crash that killed a Lakeville North High School student over the weekend. 

Alejandro Jesus Saavedra was charged Tuesday in Dakota County District Court with criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation in the April 9 crash that killed 16-year-old Sydney Kohner, a sophomore at Lakeville North High School. 

Saavedra admitted to investigators he drank and used drugs prior to driving Kohner and a 15-year-old girl from a Burnsville hotel in an attempt to avoid authorities that responded to a noise complaint, court documents allege.

According to the criminal complaint, Burnsville police responded to a noise complaint at the Best Western Premier Nicollet Inn, on the 14200 block of Nicollet Avenue South, at 6:10 a.m. on April 9. 

An officer spotted a man, later identified as Saavedra, as well as two girls — Kohner and a 15-year-old — running through the parking lot, charges said. The officer lost sight of the group but later spotted a white Lexus in the parking lot that eventually sped away. 

The officer followed the Lexus as the driver, later identified as Saavedra, drove through red lights on Nicollet Avenue, the complaint says. Saavedra then took a sharp right turn at a high rate of speed onto Grand Avenue, where the vehicle hit at least one curb, sending a tire into the roadway. 

Police attempted to catch up to the Lexus, but were unsuccessful and the officer lost sight of the vehicle as it sped down Grand Avenue, charges said. Authorities soon found the Lexus off the road on the south side of the USPS parking ramp, where Grand Avenue turns. 

"The Lexus would have missed the turn, continuing straight off the roadway," the complaint alleges. "The engine compartment and engine block appeared crushed and crumpled. The engine block appeared split in half … The destruction caused to the vehicle appeared consistent with a high-speed impact into the concrete pillar of the parking ramp."

Saavedra was pinned in the driver's seat but was conscious and alert. He was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, charges said. The two girls — Kohner and a 15-year-old — were in the backseat unconscious, charges said. 

Sydney Kohner (Provided by family)

Kohner was declared dead at the scene, while the 15-year-old was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center, where she was intubated in the pediatric ICU unit. She suffered fractured vertebrae, fractured femur, fractured tibia and tibia, and bleeding and swelling in her brain. 

On the way to the hospital, police could smell a "strong odor of alcohol" coming from Saavedra, charges said. And he told paramedics he drank alcohol and used marijuana before driving. 

Saavedra was booked into jail after being released from the hospital. 

Police executed a search warrant for the hotel room that was the subject of the report of noise, charges state. Saavedra was the registered occupant of two hotel rooms, where police found alcohol, controlled substances and drug paraphernalia. 

Police spoke with Saavedra on April 11, and he confirmed he was the driver of the Lexus, charges said. He said he bought alcohol for the party in the hotel room and said he drank alcohol and used cocaine at the hotel. When he saw police cars in the hotel parking lot, he attempted to avoid police by leaving the hotel. 

Saavedra made his first court appearance on Tuesday. Bail was set at $250,000 without conditions by Dakota County District Court Judge David Lutz. He has another hearing scheduled for April 28, court records show.