Teen bicyclist struck, killed by car in Fargo was hit deliberately by vehicle in 2014, parents say
FARGO — The 19-year-old bicyclist who died here as a result of injuries suffered when he was hit and dragged by a car last week was also struck and taken to a hospital three years ago while bicycling in Utah.
The circumstances of that incident were even stranger than the one that killed him.
Randy Bryson West, 19, of Colorado City, Ariz., died on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Sanford Medical Center after he was taken off life support, according to a Facebook page believed to belong to his parents, Christopher and Jesseca Jessop of Hildale, Utah. A post from last Thursday said he was in a "vegetative state."
West's girlfriend, Marissa Noelle Rogers, said on Monday that he was unconscious when brought to the hospital and never regained consciousness. "He never woke up," she said.
Rogers said West moved to Fargo temporarily in August with several coworkers to work construction, but had planned to return home last week.
"He missed me," she said. "He was my everything."
West was riding his bike shortly after 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, when he was hit by a BMW driven by Theodore William Kleiman, 71, a Fargo pediatrician. According to Fargo police, West and his bike were dragged underneath the BMW for one block before the driver stopped the car.
Police said Kleiman didn't realize he had hit the biker until Kleiman stopped after pulling into the parking lot of the HuHot Mongolian Grill a block away. Fargo firefighters had to lift the car to extract the bicycle and rider from underneath.
No charges have been filed against the driver, but Fargo police said on Monday that the accident is still under investigation.
West, also known as Randy Jessop, was hit while riding his bike as a 16-year-old in September 2014 in Hildale, Utah, but he and his parents claimed in that case that the driver of the vehicle saw him, swerved, and deliberately hit him, then fled. According to news reports, the hit-and-run was investigated by the FBI as a hate crime.
The teen was thrown from his bike onto the sidewalk, suffering a concussion and facial abrasions.
The Utah accident, Randy's parents said, related to the unusual religious history of Hildale. A breakaway polygamous sect of the Mormon church, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, was founded there in the 1930s by two families, the Jessops and the Barlows.
According to the St. George (Utah) News, Randy's father, Christopher Jessop, chose to leave the FLDS church when he was 18. After he moved back to Hildale with his family in 2013, they faced hostility from FLDS members. His wife and children had never been church members.
"I know they're trying to drive us out of town," Christopher Jessop told the newspaper after his son was hit while riding his bike in 2014.
Randy's mother, Jesseca, said several previous attempts had been made to hit Randy and his sisters, or run them off the road, while they rode their bikes. She said that people had also poisoned chickens on their property.
"They've called us names," Randy told the newspaper. "They've thrown rocks at us."
Two days before the Utah crash, a truck belonging to a relative of Randy's, also a former FLDS member, was blown up by explosives. Randy's mother said that the ownership of the truck that hit Randy was traced back to the FLDS church.
Jesseca Jessop said she was interviewed by the FBI for six hours the day after Randy was hit by the truck. She was also contacted by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Efforts on Monday to reach Randy's parents, as well as the motorist in the Fargo accident, were unsuccessful.
Tom Smith, owner of Great Northern Bicycle Co. of Fargo, said that the bike-car accident had been a frequent topic of discussion among local bicyclists since it happened, but that he hasn't spoken to anyone who knew the victim.
"We're saddened," he said. "I think those of us in the bike community recognize that we put ourselves in somewhat a vulnerable position. We're reliant on the attentiveness of motorists."
The fatality marks the second year in a row that a car-bike accident in Cass County has resulted in the death of the bicyclist, according to the state Department of Transportation.
The number of car-bike accidents in the county has shown no clear trend over the last five years. There were 37 such accidents in 2016, a decline of 23 percent compared to 2012, when there were 48. The number of accidents declined to 41 in 2013, and 29 in 2014, but increased to 42 in 2015.