Woman charged in Austin hit-and-run
By Mike Stoll, Austin Daily Herald
AUSTIN — A woman suspected of striking a pedestrian with her vehicle and leaving the scene on Friday appeared in Mower County Court Wednesday morning.
Tori Jersusha-Ann Ward, 20, of Dodge Center was charged with felony first-degree attempted murder-premeditated, felony second-degree attempted murder-with intent-not premeditated and felony second-degree assault-dangerous weapon-substantial bodily harm.
According to the court complaint, police were called about a possible “hit-and-run” at 11:53 a.m. on Friday at the intersection of Second Avenue and First Street Southeast. An officer was waved down by an individual who advised that the victim, a 19-yer-old male, was inside a local business. The officer entered the store and found the victim lying on the floor bleeding profusely. The officer called for an ambulance and advised other officers of his location.
The victim identified Ward as the driver. He told police he had broken up with Ward the night before and that she had been following him around for the past several hours while he was skateboarding. He said he was in the middle of the road and tried to avoid the vehicle. He estimated Ward was driving about 45 miles per hour when she intentionally struck him.
The victim was transported to Mayo Clinic Health System-Austin, where his injuries (fractured right wrist and several large lacerations) were categorized as “substantial bodily harm.”
Police interviewed witnesses, including a man who said he was walking with the victim as he was crossing the street when he heard a vehicle speed up and strike the victim. He said the driver was Ward, whom he said was the victim’s ex-girlfriend, that she was pregnant, and they just “broke up” the previous day. He estimated the vehicle was going about 45 miles per hour when it struck the victim.
A juvenile male walking with the victim told police he saw the vehicle speed up and swerve to hit the victim. He also said Ward was the driver.
Another adult male walking with the victim said he did not see the incident, but saw Ward pull to the side of the road, exit the vehicle, pour water on the hood and wipe it off with a towel before driving away. He reported that the front passenger side windshield was smashed.
Austin Police Chief David McKichan said Ward was arrested at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday at a residence in the 800 block of West Oakland Avenue.
Police obtained a search warrant for the residence after receiving information Ward might be there. The resident, who police believe is a friend of Ward, cooperated and allowed them to enter. Ward was found in a bathroom and arrested without incident.
McKichan also said the suspected vehicle, a 2008 Mazda 3 sedan with windshield damage, was found at an auto repair shop in Austin. It is unknown who drove the car to the shop.
A review of Ward’s criminal history shows a juvenile adjudication for felony terroristic threats.
Ward will appear in court again Aug. 5.
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