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Patrol IDs driver in fatal crash; Poolman recovering with broken pelvis, concussion

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Highway Patrol on Tuesday identified a Mandan man who died in a head-on collision Monday with former North Dakota insurance commissioner Jim Poolman, who is recovering from injuries suffered in the crash.

The patrol identified the deceased as 68-year-old Thomas L. Joblinski.

According to the patrol, Joblinski was driving a 1999 Dodge truck westbound on Main Street in Mandan about 3:10 p.m. Monday when he crossed a cement-curbed lane divider on the west side of the Sixth Avenue-Main Street intersection and hit Poolman’s 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee head-on.

The Dodge also hit an eastbound 2007 Chevy van, the patrol said. The van’s driver wasn’t injured.

Patrol Sgt. Steve Fischer said a medical condition may have caused the crash, but it hadn’t been confirmed.

“It appears that that possibly was what led to this happening,” he said.

Poolman, 43, of Bismarck, was listed Tuesday in fair/guarded condition at Sanford Health in Bismarck.

His wife, Nicole Poolman, a Republican state senator, said Tuesday afternoon that he was resting and “doing much better.” He suffered a broken pelvis, a concussion and numerous cuts and bruises in the crash, she said.

“He’s coming back to himself a little bit more, so I think it’s going to be just fine in the long run,” she said.

Jim Poolman will be in the hospital for at least a week, his wife said. He’s scheduled for surgery later this week to repair his pelvis, she said.

Nicole Poolman called the ordeal “very scary” and said she was thankful for the first responders and hospital staff, as well as friends and colleagues from across the state.

“People have been so kind and so supportive. It really helps one gain perspective in terms of what is important,” she said.

“And we also feel bad for the family who lost their loved one. Our hearts go out to them as well,” she added.

A Fargo native, Jim Poolman represented a Grand Forks district in the North Dakota House of Representatives from 1992 to 2000, and served as the state’s insurance commissioner from 2001 to 2007.  He resigned to start a private insurance consulting business. He currently serves as vice chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party.

Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.