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Community honors Monticello HS track star, 19, hit, killed while running

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Family and friends are mourning the loss of a former Monticello High School track and cross country star who was hit and killed in Otsego Thursday, the Star Tribune reports.

Phillip LaVallee, 19, who was from Otsego, was hit shortly after noon Thursday by a van as he we was running in the 8300 block Country Road 19 on the edge of the city, the Wright County Sheriff's Office said.

LaVallee, who earned all-state honors in track and cross-country, was on a training run while preparing for the track and cross country season as a sophomore at South Dakota State University. He also was preparing for a 5K run that's being held in Rockford Saturday.

KARE 11 reports that more than 200 people showed up at memorial run was held in LaVellee's honor Friday night in Monticello.

According to sheriff's officials, LaVallee was running on the southbound shoulder Thursday when the van, which was northbound, crossed the center line and fatally struck him.

LaVallee was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Wright County Sheriff's Department said the driver of the van -- Linda L. Gullickson, 67, of Albertville -- was injured and airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.

Wright County Sheriff Joe Hagerty told the Star Tribune that investigators are "still trying to determine" what caused the van to cross the center line and drive so far over into the other lane. He said he is unsure whether it was caused by a distraction or medical difficulty.

Compounding the tragedy was the fact that LaVallee wasn't carrying identification, which is standard for most runners, the paper said. He wasn't identified until 8 p.m., after his parents notified officials that their son left around noon for a run and hadn't returned.

The accident turned out to become somewhat of a personal matter for Hagerty. The sheriff grew up with LaVallee's father in St. Michael, and according to the Star Tribune, he went to his friend's house along with another member of the force to break the tragic news.

See KARE 11's video below on LaVallee and the memorial run Friday night below.

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