Bloomington hit-and-run: Driver charged in Richfield student's death

A 17-year-old Richfield student has died after being hit by a car in Bloomington on Friday evening. The boy's 14-year-old sister was also hurt in the incident, and the suspected drunk driver has now been charged. 

The Bloomington Police Department provided an update to the hit-and-run crash on Monday, saying police responded to a report of a pedestrian who was struck in the area of 78th Street and 12th Avenue in Bloomington at 6:10 p.m. on Jan. 27, where they found two juveniles who had been hit. 

Police identified the siblings who were hit as: 

  • Donald Earl Gayton, Jr., age 17
  • Tamya Lynn Gayton, age 14

The siblings were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center. Donald Gayton later died from his injuries on Sunday, while Tamya Gayton is in stable condition at the hospital.

Bloomington hit and run

Bloomington police on the scene of a crash that led to the death of a 17-year-old boy. A 14-year-old girl was also hurt after being struck by a vehicle in a hit-and-run. (FOX 9)

Meanwhile, the suspected driver, 27-year-old Mikala Ness of Oakdale, was charged Monday with three crimes: two counts of criminal vehicular homicide and one count of criminal vehicular operation. 

According to the criminal complaint, after the hit-and-run that killed Donald, Ness crashed into the median near the Mall of America, where she was taken into custody. The person who called 911 to report the crash let Ness sit in their car to stay warm, at which point Ness told the caller she hit two people and killed somebody. She was crying, the caller told the police. 

When police arrived, Ness told them she had been at a holiday party but couldn't remember where, charges said. She had slurred speech, and officers could smell an odor of alcohol on her breath. A preliminary breath test came back with a BAC of 0.13%, charges said. 

At the hospital, police interviewed Tamya. She told police she and her brother were walking home from Walmart, where they bought some candy, when Ness hit them, charges said. Tamya said the sidewalk was covered with snow so they were walking on the side of the roadway and were crossing over 78th Street when they were struck. 

Tamya did not report any skidding, engine revving or horns being they were hit, charges said. 

Vigil planned for Gayton siblings

In a letter to Richfield Public Schools families, Superintendent Steven Unowsky said the Gaytons have been part of the Richfield Public Schools community for many years, with siblings attending elementary, middle and high school. 

"I have had the privilege of coming to know the students and family over the past few years. 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," said lead school social worker Chantelle Vaughn in the letter.

At a vigil on Monday, the Richfield school community showed up in a big way to support a grieving mother, carrying royal blue balloons in honor of Donald Jr.

"It was his favorite color, so we just brought blue balloons," classmate Deon Brown said.