Pedestrian hit by car in Williston remembered as popular bartender: Man who struck him charged with manslaughter

WILLISTON, N.D. --A man who was hit by a pickup truck while crossing a downtown Williston street last week was walking the same route he'd taken nearly every day to a job he'd held for decades, family members said.

WILLISTON, N.D. --A man who was hit by a pickup truck while crossing a downtown Williston street last week was walking the same route he’d taken nearly every day to a job he’d held for decades, family members said.

Lyle Forsberg was about two blocks away from the American Legion, where he’d served as bartender for upwards of 20 years, when he stepped into the crosswalk. He had the right of way, but before he reached the other side of Main Street, a truck rounded the corner and slammed him to the ground.

Forsberg, 64, died hours after the crash while en route to Trinity Hospital in Minot.

The pickup’s driver, Bryan Wipf, has now been charged with manslaughter, a Class B felony that carries up to 10 years in prison. Police say Wipf, who was turning left from Second Street onto Main Street, accelerated around the corner, and admitted to officers at the scene that he’d had a beer before the crash. Although his blood alcohol level was below the legal limit, the speed at which he took the turn and his prior alcohol consumption contributed to the seriousness of the charge, Lt. Det. David Peterson of the Williston Police Department said.

Wipf was also charged with driving under suspension.


Court records show that he was cited twice for driving under suspension this year, following a citation for driving under the influence of alcohol early last year.

Wipf is being held at the Williams County Correctional Center on $50,000 bond. He will be due back in court for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 11.

Word of Forsberg’s death spread quickly, and with it came widespread grief.

A memorial sprang up at the crash site, and Forsberg’s large family gathered at the American Legion, seeking comfort in numbers.

“We’re keeping it together. Everybody is leaning on everybody for support,” his sister, Jolene Ross, said.

Her brother didn’t drive, and walked to work every day. A bartender nearly all his life, he’d spent the last 20 years at the American Legion.

The bar’s manager, Cindy Jundt, closed its doors once she heard about Forsberg’s death. The spot will remain shuttered for at least a week.

“He knew everybody,” Jundt said. “He was awesome. He never said a bad word, he never complained.”


Forsberg was the seventh of 17 children, Ross said. He was single and had no children, but was an uncle to 136 nieces and nephews spanning three generations.

The family shared laughs and tears Wednesday night, remembering Forsberg’s happy smile.

“He was so happy and bubbly all the time, just a fun, fun guy,” his sister, Tina Poirrier, said. Forsberg loved kids, his two dogs, and even playing an occasional prank on his co-workers, family members said.

“He was very laid back and easy-going,” Ross said. “He’s going to be very deeply missed.”

Forsberg was a popular guest at his sister Cathy Forsberg’s daycare, which he often visited on his way to work.

“They all loved him,” Cathy Forsberg said. “He would come in and sit on the couch and they all piled on him.”

Loye Ashton, who’s known Forsberg for more than 30 years, was the first to place flowers at the crash site.

“He was so well known here,” Ashton said. He’d seen Forsberg the night before his death, and, without realizing that it was his friend who’d been hit, watched from his downtown office as emergency responders scrambled to load him into an ambulance the next day.


He and his wife walked to Main Street on Wednesday morning and started a memorial, which soon grew into a community outpouring.

“People just started adding to it,” he said.

Later in the day, Forsberg’s entire family visited the spot and added their own flowers.

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