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Sherri Richards, Published September 01 2009

Mirror left behind in unsolved hit-and-run accident

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office has identified the type of vehicle involved in a hit-and-run accident that injured a bicyclist Saturday night near Harwood, N.D.

Deputies investigating the incident found an outside rearview mirror at the scene and have identified it as an after-market part belonging to a late 1990s to early 2000s Pontiac Grand Am or Grand Prix, according to Capt. Rick Majerus.

The passenger-side mirror appeared to be already broken, as it had industrial tape on it. Majerus said the mirror probably came off when the car hit the bicyclist.

Authorities are checking with auto dealers and salvage yards and are urging anyone who knows of a car matching the description that had a broken mirror to call the sheriff’s office at (701) 241-5800.

Meanwhile, a fundraiser has been scheduled to defray medical costs for the victim, Jennifer Walla of Fargo, who does not have medical insurance.

The potluck fundraiser will be at 1 p.m. Sunday at Red River Adventist Church, 306 N. University Drive, Fargo. Those attending are encouraged to bring a dish to pass and whatever they can afford to put into the donation bucket, according to a news release from the Fargo-Moorhead Vegetarians and Vegans.

Walla was hit from behind by a vehicle at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday while riding her bicycle northbound on County Road 81 just north of Harwood.

Walla had flashing lights on her helmet, backpack and bicycle as she rode near the Brooktree Park Subdivision. She moved to the shoulder when a vehicle approached on County Road 81.

That vehicle veered onto the shoulder and struck her, authorities say. Then, it took off, almost forcing a passing motorcycle off the road as it careened into the oncoming lane.

“I was watching for the car, and then I vaguely remember an ‘Oh my God’ sensation as I got hit,” said Walla, 28, who was taken to MeritCare Hospital in Fargo by LifeFlight and treated for a concussion, twisted ankle and a laceration on the back of her head.

Walla and the couple on the motorcycle could identify the vehicle only as a red, compact car.

At a news conference on Monday, Majerus said that investigators assume that the driver is from the area, since County Road 81 isn’t a major thoroughfare.

“You would think it’s probably local,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535