ST. LOUIS — The man suspected of hitting and killing a CBC High School student near Ted Drewes Frozen Custard has been released from jail a day after turning himself in, 5 On Your Side has learned.
A source familiar with the investigation said the 25-year-old man turned himself into police Monday and was arrested and booked on suspicion of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and tampering with evidence.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's Office took the warrant application under advisement Tuesday, and the man was released from jail, according to the source.
A spokeswoman from Gardner's office would not say why prosecutors have not yet issued charges, saying only her office does not comment on pending cases.
A police spokeswoman said Gardner's office cited "further police follow up needed" on the case.
"Detectives will continue working diligently on this case to provide any additional information that’s needed," she said.
5 On Your Side is not naming the man because he has not yet been charged with a crime.
Friday morning, St. Louis police announced the vehicle had been found in St. Louis County, but did not say where.
Police sources told 5 On Your Side the truck was brought to a mechanic for repairs on its front-end damage. From there, someone recognized the vehicle and called police, who canceled their search for the vehicle Thursday afternoon.
The suspect did not make any statements to police when he turned himself in, according to the sources.
The investigation began July 29 when 17-year-old Matthew Nikolai was struck by a truck and killed on Chippewa Street. According to St. Louis police, Nikolai was struck at about 8:15 p.m.
Police said the pickup truck that struck Nikolai was traveling westbound on Chippewa Street. Nikolai was walking from the Enterprise Bank & Trust parking lot towards Ted Drewes. The pickup truck struck Nikolai, causing him to fall into the eastbound lane where a Ford Fusion also struck him.
The pickup truck fled the scene continuing westbound on Chippewa, and the Fusion pulled over and is cooperating with the ongoing investigation.
Nikolai was not conscious or breathing when he was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
St. Louis Police Sgt. Charles Wall said information from the community played a crucial role in the investigation.
"I can confirm that the vehicle was located because of the release of the still images and the description that was disseminated by our department and the local media. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department would like to thank the public for their assistance, as we have received numerous tips as a result to their attentiveness and desire to assist our investigation. Much of what law enforcement does is dependent on assistance from the community that we serve," he wrote.
Nikolai, a rising senior at CBC, was the second pedestrian struck and killed on the stretch of road near the St. Louis mainstay. In May, a 77-year-old man was also struck and killed while crossing the street in the same area.
In data compiled by the nonprofit group Trailnet, four of the five pedestrian-involved crashes in the area of the Chippewa and Jameison intersection since 2017 were in front of Ted Drewes.
This road is operated by MoDOT, but a MoDOT spokesperson said its responsibilities for the road are limited to maintaining the driving surface. The spokesperson said traffic-calming measures are the responsibility of the City of St. Louis.
Advocates, like Michael Carmody with the regional group Safer Streets for Kirkwood and St. Louis County, say the area could be made safer with common traffic measures.
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"There are solutions to this. About 50% of the crashes across from Ted Drewes could be reduced by putting in a well-lit, rapid flashing beacon continental marked crosswalk," Carmody said.
Reporter Mercedes McKay learned from a business owner that Ald. Tom Oldenburg met with various department heads of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and spoke to Ted Drewes twice over the weekend to be involved in short and long-term solutions.