Reporting Liz Collin
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The president of a model antique car club is being remembered for her love of family and her passion for the Model T she toured the country in.
Karen Johnson, 51, of Owatonna died in Utah Friday. Investigators at the scene say her 19-year-old son, who was driving the Model T, pulled over to let faster traffic pass. That’s when the car rolled over.
The happened just outside Utah’s Zion National Park during an annual tour many in her club were also on.
Karen Johnson was the president of Minnesota’s T-Totalers for the last few years.
Johnson and her husband’s Model T, built in 1914, was one of 180 from across the country in Utah for the Canyon Land tour. It’s a week of single-day drives and events.
The car doesn’t have seatbelts or any modern safety features like rollover protection, but club members say they are relatively safe cars since they only go about 30 mph.
Johnson, a woman known for her energy and outgoing nature, is now gone after a trip she couldn’t wait to take.
“If I didn’t say I was going to miss her I’d be lying to you,” Pete Grass, who has known the Johnson’s for more than 20 years, said.
As a paramedic and ambulance driver for Owatonna, Johnson had seen her share of tragic crashes. It’s her own that’s hard to handle.
“It’s really sad when a member you know well you hear that all of a sudden they’re gone,” Eric Hylen, member of the same Model T club, said.
Hylen says the Johnson’s drove that same car from New York to Seattle a few years ago and that no one would ever think this would be her last ride.
“Everybody’s got to stick together. Help each other out. We’ll get through this,” Grass said.
Johnson’s 12-year-old granddaughter was also in the car when the crash happened. Her son’s friend was along as well. He’s still being treated in a Las Vegas hospital.
Karen and Tim Johnson have four children.