At 23, Dawson “D.J.” Wegner Cramer had his future planned.
He was in his third year as a heavy duty mechanic apprentice at Red Deer College, he owned his own work truck and tools and even had a business licence for his company, Heavy Metal Mobile Repair.
But on March 16, 2016, he discovered someone trying to steal his truck from his Nordegg Crescent home. Wegner Cramer wanted to protect what he had worked so hard for, his business, his truck and his tools.
He died, struck by his own truck.
John and Lynn Cramer, his parents, said D.J. owned all his own tools and meticulously kept them in good condition. He took pride in the ownership of his tools, his truck and his business.
A hard worker from a young age, he had a number of jobs including a paper route and at a grocery store before pursuing his heavy mechanic apprenticeship.
“He had his own business, his own truck, his own tools and his own company,” said John. “So when he finished his third year, he was good to go. He already had clients lined up.”
He had been growing a beard since he was about 12 and by the time he was 23 it was long and bushy. He grew his hair out as well, and though his parents said it gave him a rough exterior, they describe him as a big teddy bear.
“To try to take him seriously was difficult,” said Lynn. “I’d come home from work and he was sitting on the steps and he’d say ‘there’s a mouse in the house.’ He knows I’m freaked right out, I’m flying off the handle, I’m phoning John at work and losing my mind. There’s no mouse in the house, he just wanted to see my reaction.
“April Fools’ Day was like Christmas to him.”
His humour shone through his love of telling stories.
“We’d be out camping and he’d tell a story: ‘when you guys were out on a walk, a muskrat came out of the creek and was sniffing the fire and fell in the fire and I had to rescue the muskrat,’ ” said Lynn. “He would go on and on.”
“His two brothers were hanging on every word,” said John.
Just a few days before his death, Wegner Cramer was at a Black Sabbath concert with his brothers, it was the last time he saw his siblings.
All the money left in his bank account went into a savings account for his nephew’s education.
“He was very brilliant all the way through school,” said Lynn. “24 hours a day, he had to learn. That was his demise, even as a baby he never slept. His mind would not shut off and that’s what happened here, he was awake and heard it all. He didn’t sleep through it because he didn’t sleep.”
D.J. also had a whimsical side, showing up at his parent’s for Sunday dinner with a Harley Davidson motorcycle he bought on his way there.
It wasn’t the first time he had problems in his neighbourhood. His parents said he had complained about people stealing bottles or the barbecue off of his back deck before and had scared off someone bothering a neighbour.
“One day a neighbour was in the backyard with her kids and a drunk had come along and was harassing her,” said Lynn. “Without even knowing who she was, D.J. chased off the drunk.
“As much as he didn’t like that neighbourhood, he took care of them.”
Before he was killed, D.J. had looked at purchasing an acreage with a shop for his business and moving out of the neighbourhood.
Alexander Michael Talbot, 24, is charged with manslaughter in the incident. He is in custody and appears in Red Deer provincial court on Feb.27. Amanda Jo-Lynn Larsen, 27, of no fixed address is also charged in the incident with possession of stolen property over $5,000. She is at large and a warrant is out for her arrest.