Tragic end for Como Park wedding guest
Matt McKinney, Star Tribune
January 18, 2005 COMO0118
It was well past dark and the temperature was plummeting when Kathryn Gates arrived at the Como Park Conservatory.
Invited to a friend's wedding celebration there, she aimed her motorized scooter at a door she thought was the entrance.
It wasn't. Gates had gone to a locked door to a building not yet open to the public and some distance from the main entrance.
Maintenance staff found her frozen body near the door Sunday morning close to her scooter.
Friends said Monday that Gates, 49, had been struggling with muscular dystrophy for many years and was unable to stand on her own.
She had fallen off of her cart while crossing the lobby of her apartment building on Friday night, said neighbor Charles Dawson. Someone had to call 911 for her and firefighters lifted her back into her chair, he said.
Gates could walk on her own when she first moved into the Minneapolis public housing apartments some 10 years ago, said her neighbor Rudy Schumann. He knew her as a former schoolteacher when she first moved in.
Her disease gradually made it more difficult to get around, he said. She started to fall often and gained weight. She traded her walker for a motorized cart. Lately, she stayed in her room most of the time, he said.
"She was getting to the point that she couldn't even hold her head up," said Schumann, who lives in her Franklin Avenue apartment building.
Police said Gates arrived about 7 p.m. Saturday by taxi for the wedding.
The wedding party assumed that she couldn't make it when she didn't arrive, according to St. Paul police spokesman Paul Schnell.
The cause of death was not immediately determined. The Ramsey County medical examiner's office is expected to do an autopsy today.
Police said the sidewalk approaching the door where she was found is wide and clear of ice and obstacles, but she might have encountered trouble if she tried to cut across frozen ground to reach the main door.
Her body was found about 9 a.m. Sunday. The temperature at the time was 7 below and had been below zero all night. Her oxygen tank also was found nearby.
Staff writer Donna Halvorsen contributed to this report.
bast_imret said:One of my teachers died on the day of my high school graduation. That day was also June 13th, 1997 . . . Friday the 13th