Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:21 pm
Loss, depression no match for outside sales rep
It was one of the first really nice days of spring in April of 1999. The lives of two 24-year-old men would intersect, and forever change the life of Mayda Crites, a sales representative for Exacta Graphics of Butler
One of the two men was her son Bryon who, after studying for his finals at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, took off for a training ride on his mountain bike. He and his mother had talked earlier that day, and he told her he was going to try out a new heart monitor he had picked up.
Bryon was an experienced cyclist — in 1993 and 1994, he and some friends had ridden 11,000 miles around the United States. He was planning to get involved with mountain bike racing.
According to his mother, Bryon was riding in the correct position — to the right-hand side of the road — when he crossed paths with the other 24-year-old, Ronald Cherek of Rosholt. Cherek had just been paid from his job at a local factory, and had been drinking with co-workers and fishing on one of the area’s many trout streams. He was driving his pickup truck home when he struck and killed the bicycle-riding Bryon.
Bryon was killed instantly — his neck breaking due to the impact of his skull on Cherek’s windshield.
Strategy of involvement
Crites, like most action-oriented salespeople, did not take the tragedy quietly. She asserted herself with the Marathon District Attorney’s office to ensure Cherek got a substantial prison sentence.
“The DA said there wasn’t a judge in Marathon County who would sentence him for even a year in jail,” Crites said.
The fact that Cherek wound up getting an 18-year sentence for homicide by use of a motor vehicle might be considered testament to Crites’ persuasive powers.
In the days after her son’s death, Crites relied on interaction with others to stay focused and to deal with the loss. She took only one week away from work.
“This was good because it allowed me to focus on something,” Crites said. “The interaction and support from my clients was invaluable. Clients do become friends, and even if you don’t see them on a social basis, those relationships have a lot of value.”
But even with help from others, the road back was not easy.
“Anytime you return to your normal routine after a major event — it is difficult,” Crites said. “It’s been two and a half years, and I am just starting to feel like I can return to doing my job like I should. I couldn’t work full days for a while — I just got this overwhelming feeling of tiredness. I know that it was depression.”
Crites, a New York native, resisted the urge to leave the area.
“I have a lot of friends here,” Crites said. “And it would have been hard to leave. As much as going past the schools and soccer fields is difficult, there is also comfort there. Besides, I didn’t want to move because Bryon wouldn’t have a way to find me. That’s irrational, but it is a feeling that I had.”
Since the accident, Crites has become active with the state Department of Corrections — working to prevent other people from drinking and driving. She has been involved in Victim Impact Panels — which help put a face on crime for perpetrators. Those with third and fourth convictions for driving under the influence meet with the panels every other month.
“I don’t think this happened for a reason,” Crites said. “I am not a religious person and I don’t believe in predestination, but you can use something like this as a catalyst.”
Dec. 21, 2001 Small Business Times, Milwaukee