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Driver who killed well-known Fargo cyclist had long list of moving violations

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GRANDIN, N.D. – The driver who hit and killed a local athlete near here Saturday morning has a long list of driving offenses on his record.

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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.

Of the charges, he had 15 moving violations, including:

  • Speeding 20 mph over the posted limit (2008).
  • Failure to keep a safe distance between vehicles (2008).
  • Driving through a red light without stopping (2007).

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.”

A big presence

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 they’d gone on long group runs and rides together and he was a constant presence.

“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.

About 100 members of that community gathered in Lindenwood Park in south Fargo on Sunday night for a special vigil for Hawkinson. Hope Lutheran Church Pastor Mike Toomey read Scriptures and spoke about his death, and, after someone started singing “Amazing Grace,” everyone joined in.

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 that he’s run in the Fargo, Minneapolis and Boston marathons.

According to an obituary from Anderson Funeral Home in Alexandria, Minn., Hawkinson’s son Andrew died in October 2013 at the age of 24.

Funeral arrangements for David Hawkinson are pending.

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Meredith Holt
Meredith Holt is a Forum features reporter who writes a twice-monthly column on body image, weight loss (and gain), health and fitness. Her topics of interest include mental health, relationships and women's issues. She also does page design and copy editing, which she did for six years prior to joining the features staff in March 2012.
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