Witness: Grand Ave. crash that killed student a 'horror' - New York News

Witness: Grand Ave. crash that killed French exchange student a ‘horror’

Posted: Updated:
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Cleo Thiberge came to Minnesota for an education, but the college foreign exchange student's plan was cut short after she was struck by an SUV while crossing Grand Avenue.

As an attorney, Susan McDonough has given legal advice to drivers who have killed someone walking in a crosswalk -- but she never imagined she would actually see it happen first-hand.

"My thoughts are just horror for her family -- the tragedy," McDonough told FOX 9 News. "She's only four years older than my daughter."

McDonough was in her car with her 15-year-old daughter last Wednesday when she saw a young woman step off the curb.

"Then, I saw a car turning," McDonough recalled. "She crumpled to the ground. Her body was under the vehicle."

Thiberge later died from her injuries at Regions Hospital over the weekend.

"It's so crazy," McDonough said. "In one second, she went from starting a brand new life as an exchange student here -- then it was all over."

Macalester College says Thiberge had arrived from France just one day before the crash.

Those who live and work near Grand and Hamline avenues say drivers run red lights all the time, and they often don't pay attention to pedestrians. In fact, a nurse who had just finished talking on her cell phone struck and killed a young woman crossing the street there two years ago.

"I think it's an issue all up and down the avenue," said Mary Daley, who owns a sewing shop on the corner. "It's a great neighborhood, busy and full of life -- but there are some risks that go along with that too."

Daley says drivers often turn a blind eye to pedestrians crossing the popular avenue, but McDonough said she hopes the tragedy will make motorists pay more attention.

"It's so crucial," she said. "If you are driving and you have a green light -- particularly if it just changed to green, please look to your right to check the crosswalk."

The Grand Avenue Business Association had wrapped up its annual Pedestrian Safety Awareness Week just days before the crash.

The driver of the SUV that struck Thiberge is cooperating with police and is not facing any criminal charges.

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