A motorist with a long history of driving without a valid license hit and killed a woman who was on a walk to photograph the fall colors along a parkway in Duluth, and then left the SUV and the victim in a pond before police arrived, authorities said Wednesday.
The 30-year-old driver, from Duluth, fled Skyline Parkway along Enger Park early Tuesday evening but was later arrested on suspicion of criminal vehicular homicide and driving after his license was revoked, police said.
Killed was Susan Elizabeth Legarde-Menz, 60, of Duluth, according to police. Legarde-Menz was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital, where she died.
“She was standing in the grass taking a picture of the trees,” said Laurie Menz, who described her mother as an avid photographer. “She was excited about going up to Enger Tower and taking pictures of the fall leaves. Someone in a stolen car was on a joy ride and hit my mom. … My mom ended up in Twin Ponds.”
Legarde-Menz’s husband, Rick, said, “I tried to discourage her from going. ‘It’s kind of cold. … You can do it tomorrow.’ ”
After hours of trying to reach his wife of 40 years, Rick Menz got the news from police of Susan’s body being discovered.
“They didn’t know who she was when they found her in the water,” said Rick Menz, retired as the longtime equipment manager for the University of Minnesota, Duluth, men’s hockey team.
Legarde-Menz worked for many years with St. Louis County as a clerk and was her daughter’s elementary school lunch lady. “I want people to know my mother is not just a random victim,” Laurie Menz said. “She was a grandmother with a grandson on the way and was very involved with her grandkids.”
Rick Menz added, “Now she’ll never see him.”
According to police:
Authorities have not said where Legarde-Menz was walking when she was struck or where the driver was arrested.
Police tracked down the motorist, and he was booked early Wednesday into the St. Louis County jail, where he remained pending charges.
The suspect has been convicted in Minnesota at least seven times since 2002 for driving while his license was either revoked, suspended or simply when not having a license. He’s also been convicted of drunken driving, drug possession and receiving stolen property.