by Jim Boyle
Elk River Police are investigating a June 27 motorcycle crash that claimed the life of a 19-year-old Elk River man.
Erich Kanne, a 2012 graduate of Elk River High School, had been traveling south in the 19400 block of Proctor Road in Elk River shortly before 10:30 p.m. when his 2005 Yamaha left the roadway and collided with a stand of trees.
An off-duty officer who lived in the area heard the crash from his deck and called 911 before rushing to the scene, according to Elk River Police Capt. Bob Kluntz.
As he approached the roadside he could hear two young women calling for him. They had been following Kanne in separate passenger cars when they came upon a debris-filled stretch along Proctor Road, Kluntz said.
As Megan Schiltz, a 19-year-old Elk River woman and Kanne’s girlfriend, and her friend Kailey Olsen, 19, of Cambridge, looked into the darkness, the off-duty officer arrived and managed to locate Kanne and his cycle in the ditch. As he began checking for vitals, Elk River Police arrived, followed by an Elk River Ambulance but to no avail. Kanne was pronounced dead at the scene.
He had been wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, and authorities do not believe he had any alcohol in his system, Kluntz said.
When asked if speed was a factor, Kluntz said it’s hard to tell.
“When a motorcycle goes off the road into a grassy area like this, there are not scuff marks you can see in a surface like asphalt,” he said. “And with it being an older model bike, there’s no black box-like detector device to tell us how fast he was going.”
Schiltz, who was the first to come upon the scene, identified herself as Kanne’s girlfriend. An odor of an alcoholic beverage was detected on her breath while officers were attempting to obtain information from her as a possible witness.
She passed field sobriety tests, and a preliminary breath test revealed a .039 blood alcohol content, according to an incident complaint report. She was cited for minor consumption and underage drinking and driving.
Olsen, who had been following Schiltz, was interviewed and found to have been drinking, too. She also registered a low blood alcohol content level when administered a breath test and was cited for minor consumption and underage drinking and driving.
All three had been at Schiltz’s earlier that night.
“It’s hard to say what happened until we have the results of the investigation,” Kluntz said. “Sometimes we know it was a deer that ran out, or alcohol or another car was involved, but to say anything at this point would be total speculation.
“It’s just a terribly unfortunate and tragic situation,” he said.
Funeral services were held Tuesday at Central Lutheran where Kanne was remembered for many things, including his smile and his ability to get others to smile — even if they were mad or going through a difficult situation.