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Driver sought in Harwood hit-and-run

Jennifer Walla of Fargo, who suffered cuts, scrapes and a leg injury, holds the bike helmet she was wearing when she was the victim in a hit-and-run accident Saturday near Harwood, N.D. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Jennifer Walla did everything right, Cass County sheriff's deputies say.

She had flashing lights on her helmet, backpack and bicycle as she rode near Harwood, N.D., on Saturday evening. She moved to the shoulder when a vehicle approached on County Road 81.

That vehicle veered onto the shoulder and struck the Fargo woman, 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.

The Cass County Sheriff's Department continued looking for the vehicle Sunday after an extensive search Saturday night didn't turn it up. Witnesses described it as a red two-door car.

"This is something very serious," said patrol deputy Joe Gress. "Somebody had a complete disregard for human life last night."

The department is asking anyone with information on the accident to call them at (701) 241-5800. Bits from the car's passenger side were left at the scene of the accident.

Walla was biking near the Brooktree Park Subdivision at about 9:30 p.m. when she was struck. The couple on a passing motorcycle found her in the ditch and called 911.

Walla, who works at Fargo's Island Park Cycles, remembers trying to get up. When she couldn't, she asked the driver of the motorcycle to hold her hand. She also recalls telling the medics at the scene she doesn't have health insurance.

She was treated and released at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

She was groggy from pain medication and still in shock later in the day.

"The helmet definitely saved her life," said her boyfriend, Erik Meyer. "She's lucky to be where she's at."

On Saturday night, three Cass County deputies searched for the car.

"We combed through all the towns in the northern part of the county last night," Gress said. "We didn't have any luck."

On Sunday, Walla worried about her hospital bill. She had attended the pro-health care reform rally at the Fargodome earlier on Saturday, and she said the irony wasn't lost on her.

"I'm really hoping they catch the person," she said, "because I'll be in a huge hole if they don't."