92-year-old motorcyclist dies in traffic crash

submitted photo Roy Kromschroeder, left, died after a motorcycle accident on Friday, Sept. 13.

Autumn Mason

Autumn Mason faces homicide charges

A 92-year-old East Side man is dead after being struck by an SUV while he was driving his Honda motorcycle.

Autumn Brenae Mason, 26, of Vadnais Heights is charged with one count of criminal vehicular homicide in Kromschroeder’s death, according to the Ramsey County attorney’s office.

The man’s daughter Jan Braaten said her father, Roy W. Kromschroeder, was on a routine early morning motorcycle ride in his neighborhood on his way to walk inside Maplewood Mall with friends.

Though up there in years, Braated said her father “was more like a 70-year-old” and very active. “We had no qualms about his ability to ride a motorcycle.”

Just before 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 13, Kromschroeder came up to the four-way stop at Prosperity and Ivy avenues at the same time as a young woman driving a Dodge Durango, according to a criminal complaint from the attorney’s office.

A witness then saw Kromschroeder and Mason proceed through the intersection at the same time, the complaint said.

One witness reportedly told police that Mason accelerated rapidly into the intersection, colliding with Kromschroeder.

The witness told police that Mason “accelerated in a manner that gave her the impression that Mason had become impatient,” the complaint states.

Kromschroeder’s helmet flew into the air as he was struck, and he was thrown from his bike, landing on his head.

A witness reported that Mason got out of her car to check on Kromschroeder, but then got back into her car and sped away from the scene. The witness tried following the fleeing SUV to get the license plate number, but said he could not do so safely because the Durango was traveling at a high speed on neighborhood streets.

One of the Durango’s license plates was found on top of Kromschroeder’s motorcycle.

Blacked out

Maplewood police officers, using the license plate number left at the scene, went to Mason’s home in Vadnais Heights, the complaint states.

When questioned, Mason admitted to having driven the Durango about 20 minutes prior, and recalled having an accident.

She told police that after the accident, she “didn’t recall anything else because she blacked out,” the complaint states. She told police she had not seen the motorcycle at the four-way stop. She allegedly couldn’t remember whether she had stopped to check on Kromschroeder or not. She told police the next thing she remembered she was over by Lake Phalen.

Officers arrested the 26-year-old and brought her to the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center.

Mason’s mother reportedly said her daughter had arrived home panicked and worried, and told her mother she’d been involved in an accident, to which she replied that she’d have to turn herself in.

A tough choice

Braaten said she learned of her father’s accident when a friend of Kromschroeder’s called her because he was late for his routine Maplewood Mall walk.

Braaten then called her father’s cell phone, and a nurse picked up on the other end, and gave her the bad news that her father had been seriously injured.

Despite the severity of the injuries, he was still alive -- something that Braaten said was a testament to the vitality of the 92-year-old.

Braaten and other family members were able to see Kromschroeder in his hospital bed. Confronted with the difficult reality of his injuries, they had to make the choice to take him off of life support, Braaten said.

Lifelong East Sider

“Obviously this was a shock,” Braaten said. “He was like a physical specimen,” she said, referring to his good health.

She said he was a guy who’d hang his laundry outside, fix his own roof and walk a couple miles every day. He also had a brandy every night, a ritual some of his friends have since taken to, she added.

“He was born in the same (East Side) house he lived in until he died,” she said.

He graduated from Harding High School along with his late wife, Lorraine, served in the military during World War II and worked at 3M. When he retired around the age of 60, the couple took a cross-country motorcycle trip.

The family held a memorial service at Fort Snelling on Friday, Sept. 20.

Braaten said that in addition, the Maplewood Mall has contacted her about making a plaque for Kromschroeder near a fireplace in the food court at the mall. They’ll be holding a brief memorial with some of the friends he would routinely walk with there.

Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com.

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