POCATELLO — The local cyclist found dead in a ravine east of Pocatello on Monday morning was a humanitarian who had previously been honored as a distinguished graduate of Idaho State University.
Bobette Wilhelm, 40, of Pocatello, died as a result of a hit-and-run crash that occurred on Buckskin Road sometime between 6 and 7 p.m. Friday, the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.
Wilhelm received the Distinguished Young Alumni Award from ISU in 2013 while working as an energy efficiency and conservation analyst for Puget Sound Energy in Bellevue, Washington.
Wilhelm graduated from ISU with a bachelor’s degree of science in economics in 2002 and received a master’s degree of science in agricultural economics from the University of Idaho in 2004.
In addition to the Distinguished Young Alumni Award, Wilhelm was awarded the Outstanding Student Award for the College of Arts and Sciences while at ISU.
After finishing her master’s degree at the University of Idaho, Wilhelm served as a member of AmeriCorps in Washington state and organized an alternative spring break and assisted in the development of an environmental field school for Edmonds Community College, a public community college in Lynnwood, Washington.
Wilhelm also volunteered as a math instructor for Peace on the Streets and served on the Community Matters Vision Council for her local United Way in Washington state.
Pocatello resident Angie Wilhelm, Bobette’s identical twin sister, says Bobette moved back to Idaho several years ago, initially taking a job with the ISU Foundation before becoming a power analyst with Idaho Falls Power.
Within the last year, Angie says Bobette moved back to Pocatello from Idaho Falls because the Gate City area provided better outdoor recreation.
“Bobette was an avid hiker and road biker,” Angie said. “She biked all around Pocatello and had been commuting to Idaho Falls for work. She felt Pocatello was a much better fit with her hobbies, and she wanted to be closer to her friends here.”
Angie says she and her older sister, Tara Dayley, reported that Bobette was missing to Pocatello police around 8:45 a.m. Monday.
At about 11 a.m. Monday, an off-duty Bannock County sheriff’s deputy discovered Bobette’s body in a ravine along Buckskin Road near Parks Road, Chief Deputy Tony Manu of the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office told the Journal on Tuesday.
Manu said Sheriff’s Office investigators believe Bobette was riding her road bike on Buckskin Road between 6 and 7 p.m. Friday when an unidentified motorist struck her bike, causing her to leave the roadway and plummet down an adjacent ravine.
On Tuesday, Manu said that evidence on Bobette’s cellphone is what allowed authorities to narrow down the window in which she was likely struck to one hour on Friday evening. Manu said evidence at the scene suggests that Bobette was alive for some time before succumbing to her injuries.
In a Monday Facebook post, the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office described the vehicle suspected of striking Bobette as a green 1997-2003 Ford pickup or SUV with front passenger side damage. This determination was made via the broken vehicle parts found at the scene, Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen said.
But upon further investigation, the Sheriff’s Office said the parts actually matched a green 1989-99 Chevrolet pickup truck or SUV with front passenger side damage.
Bannock County Coroner Ely Taysom said on Tuesday that the damage to Bobette’s road bike was consistent with being struck by a vehicle.
Taysom said he ordered an autopsy of Bobette’s body that a forensic pathologist completed in Boise on Tuesday. It could take up to 90 days for Taysom to receive a finalized copy of Bobette’s autopsy report, which will provide authorities with a direct cause and manner of her death, Taysom said.
Taysom added, “The preliminary autopsy results indicate that her injuries were not immediately or instantaneously fatal.”
Manu said the Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating several “very solid” leads in the case, but he encouraged anyone with any information on Bobette’s death to contact Sheriff’s Office detective Phil Nickel at 208-236-7135 or the Bannock County emergency dispatch center at 208-236-7111.