Driver gets over 4 years in crash that killed St. Thomas student

A Hennepin County judge sentenced a 21-year-old man Thursday to more than four years in prison for a crash that killed his 20-year-old girlfriend, Ria Patel, last September. 

Last month, a jury found Michael Campbell guilty of two counts of criminal vehicular homicide and one count of leaving the scene of the fatal collision. 

Early in the morning on Sept. 17, Campbell was driving himself and Patel, a student at St. Thomas University, in northeast Minneapolis when their car crashed into a traffic light near the corner of Stinson Boulevard and Ridgeway Parkway. First responders found Patel trapped in the car, but Campbell had fled the scene. He was arrested several days later. Authorities was believe Campbell was likely drunk at the time of the crash. 

A judge sentenced Campbell to 52 months in prison on Thursday. At the sentencing, Patel’s sister, Raveena, read a victim impact statement, saying Campbell ripped a hole in her heart. She said Ria was her best friend and lashed out at Campbell for leaving her sister to die in a smashed up car. 

In his victim impact statement, Ria’s father criticized Campbell for not taking ownership over his actions. He said it was devastating for him to talk about his daughter in the past tense. 

“20 years of happiness…all of it is gone forever,” he said. 

Campbell offered an emotional apology to Ria’s family in court, telling her family he loved Ria more than anything. He said he and Ria were kissing and when he took his eyes off the road, the crash occurred. He said he would do anything to take back what happened. 

Ria's family has launched a foundation in her memory focused on raising awareness about drunk and distracted driving.