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Hit-and-run victim faced earlier road tragedies

Updated: 2013-04-08T17:45:24Z

By RICK MONTGOMERY

The Kansas City Star

Less than two years ago, Leroy A. Bronson lost his wife and young daughter to a drunken driver.

On Sunday, Bronson — known by friends and family as Buddy — was killed at a Kansas City intersection when a hit-and-run driver collided with his motorcycle, police said.

“It’s unfathomable,” said Kansas City police Sgt. Bill Mahoney. “The circumstances of both (fatalities) are not that far apart.”

Bronson, 57, of Belton, was on his 2006 Harley Davidson about 12:30 a.m., heading south on Wornall Road, when a westbound pickup truck on Bannister Road struck him. The driver of the pickup left the vehicle and fled on foot.

Witnesses told police the pickup was moving at a high speed and may have run a stop light.

Although police did not have the pickup driver in custody Sunday night, “we’re pursuing some really promising leads,” Mahoney said.

In July 2011, Bronson’s wife, Diane K. Bronson, and their daughter Anna, 11, died after their car collided with a vehicle heading the wrong way on Interstate 435 near 63rd Street in Kansas City. The driver of the oncoming car, Felix Solano-Gallardo, had a blood alcohol content more than twice the legal limit.

Solano-Gallardo is serving a 15-year-prison term. At the sentencing in March 2012, Bronson said he still hadn’t come to terms with the deaths of his wife and daughter.

“When I see the school bus around the bend, I go back inside and cry,” he said. “I had my first biological child at 44. That’s something you don’t take for granted.”

That tragedy did not stop Bronson from fulfilling his passion for riding motorcycles, said stepson and fellow rider Tyler Bronson on Sunday: “He was definitely more cautious after that...It’s everyone else out there who you’ve got to worry about.”

Bronson had raised Tyler and a brother since they were babies.

When a police officer showed up at Tyler’s home early Sunday, “I just took a step back and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” even before the officer delivered the news, Tyler said.

Bronson, a graduate of Westport High School, launched a Facebook page after the 2011 tragedy. He wrote:

“Just lost my wife and 11-year-old daughter in a car wreck, to a no-good drunk driver...Now am alone with many regrets.

“Pray for me and my two sons if you’ve got the time.”

To reach Rick Montgomery, call 816-234-4410 or send email to rmontgomery@kcstar.com.

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