Student loses best friend, roommate


Courtesy photo: John Maust

Sam Kruger, right, John Maust, and Meredith Gibson at John’s birthday this year. Kruger and Maust had been roommates since their freshman year.

Kaitlin York

The late-night drives to McDonald’s and Walmart won’t be the same for John Maust without his best friend and roommate Sam Kruger.

Kruger, sophomore in engineering, was killed Oct. 8 in an automobile collision in O’Brien County. He was headed northbound on Highway 59 when he crossed the center line and was struck by a semi truck traveling in the opposite direction.

Kruger was pronounced dead at the scene.

“His best friend from home came into my dorm room and told me that Sam didn’t make it home,” said Maust, freshman in mechanical engineering. “I didn’t take it seriously at first — I was silent and he didn’t say anything, and that’s when I knew that I just lost my best friend.”

Kruger and Maust met their freshman year when roommates were assigned. They had many similarities including their interest in sports, favorite movie genres, love for the Minnesota Twins and their relationships with Christ.

“He got me closer to God and involved with Bible study,” Maust said. “We even started one in our room last year.”

Their Bible study group grew from five to 14 people within two weeks, Maust said.

“We continued it this year, and now it’s twice the size of last year’s with just students on our floor,” he said.

Kruger grew up in the small town of Sibley, and graduated from Sibley-Ocheyedan High School in 2009. He was a son, a brother and a friend.

He was involved in many ISU student organizations including the American Society of Civil Engineers, E2020 Scholars program, Navigators and intramural football and basketball.

“We lost our first intramural football game, mostly because of his loss. Basketball is going to be different, too, because he was always the guy that would shoot the final 3-pointer from half court to win the game,” Maust said.

School was important to Kruger along with his relationships with his family, Maust said. He was the youngest to his brother and sister and was very close with his parents.

“He had pictures of them everywhere and always kept in touch with them,” Maust said. “Every Valentine’s Day he would send his sister flowers because he wasn’t sure if someone else already was.”

Other than being a caring brother, Kruger was also a clean and outgoing roommate. In his room you would find posters of his favorite baseball player, Joe Mauer, catcher for the Minnesota Twins, and occasionally Mountain Dew cans spread out wherever he had left them, Maust said. 

“He was one of the goofiest guys you would have ever met. He would change your life after one day of knowing him it seemed,” Maust said. “I felt like I had known him my whole life after the first time we met.”

The two roommates were also together when they weren’t in the classroom. On the weekends they would watch movies or play basketball for more than six hours. One of their favorite things to do was make late-night trips to Walmart and McDonald’s “just because,” Maust said.

“He would always quote the movie ‘The Hangover’ when we were in the Walmart parking lot about watching out for the mauling zebras,” Maust said. “And at McDonald’s the only thing we ordered was medium fries.”

One of Maust’s favorite memories of Kruger was when they had the opportunity last summer to watch the Twins play at their home stadium. For Kruger and Maust, it was their first time at Target Field.

“Sam was also a musical guy. He was learning how to play the guitar and he just bought turntables so that he could start mixing songs,” Maust said. “His most prized possession would probably be his Gibson acoustic guitar that he bought so that he could learn how to play and later propose to his future wife that he hasn’t met yet.”

Among their group of friends, everyone is shaken about Kruger’s death.

“There’s a hole in everyone’s life,” Maust said. “He was always the guy that was there for you whether you were having a bad day or just needed somewhere to stay.”

Maust has yet to stay in his dorm room after Kruger’s death. He is unsure of whether or not he will want a new roommate next year.

“I’m going to keep living my life how I was and try not to let it impact me too much. I will always be thinking of him and there will always be an open spot at the table and an open spot on the team for him,” Maust said.