UPDATED: Bicyclist dies in Traill County collision; was well known in running, cycling circles
GRANDIN, N.D. – The driver who hit and killed a local athlete Saturday morning has a long list of driving offenses on his record.
Justin Jalbert, 26, of Hunter, N.D., struck Fargo man David Hawkinson’s bicycle with his pickup truck around 10:45 a.m. about a mile north of Grandin.
According to the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Hawkinson, 50, was riding his bike south on Traill County Road 81 alone when Jalbert approached him from behind in his truck at a higher rate of speed.
The patrol said Jalbert didn’t see Hawkinson and struck the rear tire of his bicycle, throwing him off his bike and killing him. Jalbert was uninjured.
The crash remains under investigation, but authorities believe distracted driving was a contributing factor in the crash. The patrol’s Sgt. Luke Hendrickson said Jalbert wasn’t arrested or cited but that charges are pending along with the investigation.
A North Dakota background check on Justin Ronald Jalbert, born in 1987, shows an extensive history of driving offenses dating back to 2006, including driving under the influence of liquor or drugs, speeding, and several instances of driving with a suspended license. He has no record in Minnesota.
Jalbert took to Facebook to issue apologies, writing a public post on his page Saturday:
“I killed a man. This is the worst day of my life. I can’t even cry anymore.
“I was driving to work and reached for something in the glovebox. He was riding bike down 81, parked on the highway edge of the shoulder. When I looked up it was already too late.
“Life is so, so precious and anything can happen. Even if it’s a road you always travel and never expect anyone, pay attention to the road. I cannot stress this enough. It does not have to be drunk driving or text driving. I feel so horrible words can’t describe it. Be so careful.
“And bikers PLEASE always be on the lookout for some idiot like me who may be momentarily distracted. I hate writing this but I must own up to the truth. I made a terrible mistake. I would wish this on no one. I am so sorry but that will never bring him back or be enough for his family. I hope the rest of you are more safe reading this admittance of shame.”
He also commented Sunday afternoon on WDAY-TV’s Facebook post about the accident:
“I just want to say if his family is reading this I can’t say anything to make up for what I did. But if I could I would have switched spots with him. I know you may hate me and I understand. I don’t know what to say. I feel crushed. I would like to speak to you in person if you open to that. Your family did not deserve this and I am so sorry I took his life.”
Hawkinson, who worked at Valley Imports in south Fargo, was well known in both the Fargo-Moorhead cycling and running communities.
Mark Hagen, the director of the Fargo-Moorhead Triathlon Club, called him a “very gifted runner, an incredible man, a religious man, and a family man.” He added that Hawkinson and his wife, Amy, had signed up to do their first Ironman together this summer in Boulder, Colo.
Tom Smith, manager of Great Northern Bicycle Co. in downtown Fargo, said he didn’t know Hawkinson well but that he was a constant presence in the cycling community.
“He was a big, tall friendly guy, always had a friendly smile on his face,” he said.
Rick Laliberte, a Fargo man and fellow cyclist who met Hawkinson on a couple occasions, said the loss was rippling throughout local running and cycling circles.
“Anytime there’s a tightly knit community, I think it hits the group a little harder,” he said.
According to his bio on a link from Valley Imports’ Web page, Hawkinson grew up in Fargo and graduated from Fargo South High School. He graduated from Hennepin College in Brooklyn Park, Minn., in 1986.
It also said he has three children and three grandkids and he’s run in the Fargo, Minneapolis and Boston marathons.
Funeral arrangements are pending.