Driver charged New Year's hit-and-run had learner's permit

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Donella Day, 27, was charged Tuesday with criminal vehicular homicide in the New Year's Eve crash that killed 37-year-old Aisha Freels. 

A Minneapolis woman, driving on a learner’s permit and making a liquor store trip, has been charged in a deadly New Year’s Eve hit-and-run crash. Donella Day, 27, was charged Tuesday with criminal vehicular homicide in the crash that killed 37-year-old Aisha Freels, who was crossing Lyndale Avenue to meet a taxi.

According to the criminal complaint, Day told police she had gone to the liquor store and was driving toward her friend’s house when she saw a woman in the street. The next thing she noticed was glass in her own face. The taxi driver, parked on Lyndale Avenue, told police that a blue sedan was driving about 45 mph through the 30 mph zone when it struck Freels.

Officers recovered the vehicle from Day’s garage and noted it had significant damage to the windshield. Day’s driver’s license record lists her license class as an instructional permit.

Freels was a hairstylist, a mother of 4 and a member of a very large Minneapolis family. A memorial of balloons, flowers and stuffed animals has continued to grow outside her Lyndale Avenue home.

“It was overwhelming to see all the people out here,” said Francis Tucker, Aisha’s father. “The love she gave out, how it came back to her -- it was really nice.”

Even in losing his daughter, Tucker said he is inclined to forgive.

“I try to put myself in other people’s shoes…and I can understand why she took off,” he said.