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Dream trip ends in tragedy

Pat Root was killed Sunday in Southern California after being struck by another motorcyclist. She was 62. She
Pat Root was killed Sunday in Southern California after being struck by another motorcyclist. She was 62. She's pictured here by one of the carvings on the Campbell River foreshore.
— image credit: Family photo

After retiring last fall, Patricia Root was on a dream motorcycle trip in Southern California when she was killed Sunday by another motorcyclist.

Root, 62, was the former owner of Campbell River’s Merle Norman and had owned the cosmetics store for many years.

“She owned it when it was still in the mall. Campbell River didn’t seem as big back then and everyone seemed to know her…she was very well-loved in Campbell River,” said Root’s daughter Anita Wlasitz (nee Heinen).

On Sunday, Root and her partner Warren Burd were wrapping up a five-month vacation in the Palm Springs area when the tragedy occurred around 1:50 p.m., near Joshua Tree National Park.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Root was riding her Harley-Davidson – with Burd riding nearby – when another motorcyclist, on a Yamaha sport bike, crossed over the centre line and collided head-on with her.

Root was pronounced dead at the scene while the other rider, a 27-year-old man from Twentynine Palms, California, was airlifted to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs where he later died of his injuries. His name was not released.

Police do not suspect drugs or alcohol were factors in the fatal collision.

According to Wlasitz, Root arrived in Campbell River more than 30 years ago. She is survived by two children, two step-children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

After selling the store, Root opened another business, Pat’s Fabulous Nails, and finally retired last October. Wlasitz said she was very much in love with Burd, a well-known retired car dealer, and the two were having a wonderful time until the tragedy.

“It was her dream come true; to find love and travel,” said Wlasitz.

In addition to motorcycling, she enjoyed spending winters in Mexico and was known for her volunteer work in Campbell River which included helping to feed the homeless, contributing to the women’s shelter and supporting the Red Hat Society.

“Her two cats were her babies and she loved her grandkids,” said Wlasitz.

A celebration of Root’s life will take place April 26, 1 p.m., at the Maritime Heritage Centre.

 

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