Dickinson State athlete injured in motorcycle accidentThe Dickinson Police Department on Wednesday identified Dickinson State football standout Zach Hepperle as the 22-year-old man who was driving a motorcycle that was struck by a pickup truck Tuesday night on West Villard Street.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
The Dickinson Police Department on Wednesday identified Dickinson State football standout Zach Hepperle as the 22-year-old man who was driving a motorcycle that was struck by a pickup truck Tuesday night on West Villard Street.
Hepperle has returned to his parent’s home in Baker, Mont., and is resting after dislocating his right ankle he said via a telephone interview on Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m OK, just banged up,” Hepperle said.
The 6-foot junior played a vital role in DSU’s Dakota Athletic Conference championship run last season and was expected to be the team’s starter at running back again next fall before the injury.
Hepperle was a leader for the Blue Hawks’ offense last season, rushing for team highs of 741 yards and 11 touchdowns on 173 carries. He also had a team-high 32 receptions for 348 yards receiving and a touchdown. He was a second-team all-Dakota Athletic Conference selection.
“He might have been as valuable of anybody we had on our team last year because of the versatility he brought, but you don’t even think where he fits in now,” DSU football coach Hank Biesiot said. “We’re just happy he’s talking to us today.”
Hepperle said he was told by doctors on Tuesday night that his ankle will be fine if he stays off it for at least six weeks. He added he already has intentions of being on the field this August when the Blue Hawks being fall practices.
Hepperle was not wearing a helmet while driving his 2006 Gemstar motorcycle. While he was traveling down West Villard, police say a GMC S-10 pickup driven by a 17-year-old male was turning south to enter the Classic Lanes parking lot when the vehicles collided.
Hepperle fell off the motorcycle and over the pickup before landing in the pickup’s box.
“I happened pretty fast,” Hepperle said. “I was probably lucky it was a little pickup. If it was something a little bigger, I probably would have hit my head. … Obviously he didn’t see me and he pulled out in front of me. There was nothing I could do.”
While Hepperle hopes to get back on the football field, Biesiot said it was clear following one of the team’s spring practices Wednesday that it’ll be difficult to replace the tailback — who the team used at several different positions on offense and special teams — if the injury lingers and he’s unable to return.
“He adds a dimension to our playbook that nobody else does right now,” Biesiot said. “He’s probably the only guy who doesn’t really have a backup because it was a unique spot for us. Hopefully it all goes well and we don’t miss a beat.”
Hepperle said he’s trying to stay positive despite the injury.
“I’m pretty fortunate to be where I am,” Hepperle said. “I think everything will be fine.”