LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Crystal Helm, the woman accused of killing a teenager in a fatal hit and run on April 27, initially told police she was unable to stop before the collision due to problems with her vehicle. But according to an arrest report obtained by 8 News Now, she eventually revealed another reason why she didn’t stop to police.
The incident occurred around 8:24 p.m. at East Tropicana and South Morris Street. The front driver’s side of Helm’s red 2002 Acura SUV struck the teenager, who the report identified as Akadian Frankopoulos, as he crossed the intersection in a marked crosswalk. He was projected and landed in the roadway. Frankopoulos sustained “substantial” injuries and later died at Sunrise Hospital.
According to the report, a Community Ambulance traveling on Tropicana witnessed the crash, and its crew rushed to render Frankopoulos aid. The crew gave Metro Police a description of suspect vehicle, saying it was a red SUV, possibly a Tahoe. They were unable to give a license plate number.
About an hour and a half after the collision, Metro officers found a vehicle matching the suspect vehicle’s description in a Pep Boys parking lot. The report says the SUV was loaded onto a AAA tow truck that was towing it from the location.
Officers obtained permission to look at the SUV from the tow truck driver, Michael Okada. He told them he had received a request to tow the vehicle from the Pep Boys after the collision.
Authorities discovered the call came from Justin Porties, who asked to have the vehicle towed to a location in the 3100 block of East Flamingo.
While examining the vehicle, officers found significant damage to the SUV’s bumper in front of the driver’s side. Metro’s Collision Investigation Section then responded to the scene of the collision. They found vehicle parts and pieces of paint the report says “appeared to be consistent with the dynamics of the collision.” They also collected evidence to compare it to the vehicle in the Pep Boys lot.
Metro detectives examined the SUV, now located in a Carl’s Junior lot in the 4600 block of East Tropicana. The report noted they found damage to the front that was consistent with impact of a human body, as well as the current injury information they had about the victim.
Officers obtained a search warrant of the vehicle to determine who was the driver after obtaining sufficient probably cause. The vehicle’s temporary registration revealed the vehicle belonged to Helm but had no date of birth or address.
Detectives interviewed Okada, who showed them where the vehicle was originally parked at the Pep Boys when he received the call to tow it. The report says he told police that he observed two black men with a short Hispanic woman in the lot when he arrived. One of the men, Porties, identified himself as the caller to Okada. The tow truck driver thought it was odd Porties called, as the driver’s seat looked like it had been used by a shorter person, and Porties stood about 6’2″.
Okada also told police the woman remained silent while he loaded the SUV onto the tow truck.
A Metro detective then went to the address where Okada had been asked to tow the vehicle. After finding the address was an entire building and not a single unit, he went back to the collision scene. According to the report, a man named Howard Brooks contacted officers at the scene and told them the SUV driver wanted to turn herself in. She reportedly called him and asked him to drive her to the police station.
Helm spoke with a detective on the phone, identifying herself and giving him her location. The report says they met her there. They confirmed her identity with a valid California driver’s license and presented officers with the vehicle key.
The suspect said yes to an interview with detectives, and according to the report, declined legal counsel. During the interview, Helm told detectives she went grocery shopping and visited her mechanic’s home before the collision. She admitted she was aware she struck a person and believed it to be an adult female.
The report says Helm told police she tried to stop after the collision but was not able to due to issues with her car, including locked brakes and it not responding to steering. Google Maps noted the Pep Boys where she ended up was 0.7 miles from the collision scene and that she had to cross South Nellis to get to it, according to the report.
She then told the detective she tried to stop before the collision, but again, was unable to. The report says she later said she didn’t attempt to stop until after hitting the victim but that she couldn’t remember.
Helm told police she called her mother and friend Justin after the collision and confirmed to them she did have a functional cell phone at the time. When asked why she didn’t call for help, she told the detective she “was scared.”
Detectives collected a buccal swab, the vehicle key, and Helm’s cell phone as evidence.
The suspect then told police a second reason for why she didn’t stop was because she didn’t have insurance for the vehicle and didn’t know what to do.
According to the report, while she was cooperative with detectives, she was arrested due to the fact she “knowingly struck a person in a marked crosswalk, then failed to stop and render aid, while being in possession of a cell phone, which she could have used to call 911 but chose to attempt to conceal her crime.”
Helm faces the charges of duty to stop at the scene of an accident involving death or personal injury, failure to yield or exercise due care to a pedestrian, and failure to render aid at the scene of the accident.