Backus couple dies after two-vehicle collision

Elyeas were known for their support of Cass County youth

Susan Ann Bye-Elyea and Leo Elyea.
Submitted photos.

BACKUS — A Backus husband and wife known for their work helping Cass County 4-H youth died following an April 6 two-vehicle collision on Highway 371 near Backus.

Susan Ann Bye-Elyea, 83, died at the scene. Leo Elyea, 86, died later after suffering life-threatening injuries and being taken to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, the Minnesota State Patrol reported.

The Elyeas were part of the Cass County Friends of Youth State Fair Scholarship Fund committee that awarded funds to county 4-Hers to help defray their expenses for exhibiting at the State Fair and regional state competitions around the state.

Leo and Sue Elyea were co-chairs of the committee with Backus resident Barb Frederick for eight years and retired from those positions after last year’s fundraising.

Leo Elyea, an avid golfer, also organized an annual June benefit golf tournament at Tianna Country Club in Walker for this cause.


The crash occurred at 7:36 a.m. at Highway 371 and Haddix Circle Northwest in Powers Township, just north of Backus. A Chevy Silverado was northbound on Highway 371 when it crossed into the southbound traffic lane and collided with a Ford Escape driven by Leo Elyea.

The road was snow-covered and icy at the time of the crash, the State Patrol reported.

The driver of the Chevy, Stephen Ertl, 56, of St. Cloud, and his passenger, Ryan Skaja, 26, of Foley, suffered nonlife-threatening injuries and were taken to Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd.

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office and Backus Fire Department assisted the State Patrol at the scene of the crash.

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "Pineandlakes Echo Journal." Often, the "Pineandlakes Echo Journal" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.

Send us your news or story ideas by emailing or calling 218-855-5877. Be sure to leave a message!
What To Read Next
Lee and Penny Anderson are well known for their involvement in area communities
The temperature hovered right around zero degrees throughout the afternoon.
Take a look at just some of what was on the Echo Journal's e-paper pages in the last week at
Craig Wadzink has been volunteering since 2018