Hit-run victim loved cycling

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 14, 2011 - 10:53 PM

Prosecutors allege the suspect's pickup sped past other motorists just before hitting a man in Minneapolis.

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Michael Buller, 28, lit a candle for his uncle Thomas Malloy who was killed in a hit and run accident at that spot on West River Parkway on Saturday while walking his bike across the street. On Monday, November 14, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minn., Buller walked to the accident scene with his classmates from Luther Seminary.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

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On an unusually warm November Saturday, Thomas Malloy got on his bicycle for his five-mile ride from his Minneapolis home to a Jewish sabbath observance in St. Paul. He never made it.

Malloy, 61, was killed when he was struck by a pickup truck in a hit-and-run accident. Nine hours later, the suspected driver turned himself in, and now Wesley Gubbin, 27, of Minneapolis, has been charged with criminal vehicular homicide.

Malloy's nephew, Michael Buller, 28, remembered his uncle as an avid cyclist who grew up near Kenyon, Minn., and had worked as an electrician. Malloy, who was single, loved living in the Phillips neighborhood.

Buller said that he "debated a lot" with his uncle, a Messianic Jew. "We ... stayed up late one evening debating the Bible and all the things it had to say."

Malloy apparently was crossing the intersection of Franklin Avenue and West River Parkway, heading east, when he was struck by the northbound pickup sometime around 11 a.m., police said.

According to the criminal complaint, a driver heading north on the parkway said he saw Gubbin's pickup speed past him on the left. The pickup then hit Malloy on his bike and never slowed down.

Another motorist said the pickup tailgated him before passing three vehicles and then hitting Malloy, according to the complaint.

According to the criminal complaint, Gubbin acknowledged to police that he was passing vehicles on the parkway before hitting the bicyclist and then fled the scene. "The defendant claimed he did not know what to do and just kept driving," the complaint read.

Buller said he also spoke with one of the witnesses to the hit-and-run who "was there with my uncle" afterward, as was a "physician who showed up and checked him out before paramedics arrived."

"It was nice to know he was not alone," Buller said. "That was comforting."

Buller said that when he visited the crash scene Sunday, he found his uncle's kippa -- also known as a yarmulke -- on the ground nearby.

"I was glad to find it," said Buller. "He will be buried with it."

Police had asked for the public's help in locating the truck -- painted in a camouflage design -- and put out a description of the vehicle and its license plates. Just before 8:30 p.m., Gubbin turned himself in at police headquarters, police said. He had abandoned the truck in north Minneapolis, and police recovered it.

Gubbin, who remains in the Hennepin County jail in lieu of $150,000 bail, has a criminal history that includes convictions for disorderly conduct in Ramsey County in 2008, operating an off-highway motorcycle in Mille Lacs County in 2005, and second-degree assault in Hennepin County in 2001, when he was 17.

Buller expressed sympathy for Gubbin and his family, saying, "I honestly have no idea how hard it must be on his family at large. I hope they'll be able to find peace, and I hope the best for him.

"My uncle lived a full life, and Wesley has his whole life. ... It's not easy for either side."

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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