FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --A late night ride took a dark turn when a Fresno State student crashed his dirt bike overnight. Joel Talbot, 25, died when he hit a pole head-on.
Talbot crashed his bike into a yellow pole, which is in place to keep farm equipment from driving into the canal. Talbot couldn't avoid the pole, possibly because he couldn't see it.
The dirt bike left this Fresno State farm on the back of a tow truck. Its damage reveals little about what damage was really done. Talbot's life ended on the bike, apparently in the middle of the night.
"It looks like he was going eastbound on the access road, dirt access road in the middle here, and hit a large metal standpipe head on," said Lt. Joe Gomez, Fresno Police Department.
Those big yellow pipes are easily visible during daylight hours, but the dirt roads connecting Fresno State farmland are built for farm equipment. There are no street lights and traffic at night is rare, but not unheard of.
David Huerta, the Fresno State Police Chief, said, "On occasion, we have young people who see this as open ground. It's in the middle of the city and so they take the opportunity to cut across here and ride bicycles or motorcycles. We generally contact them and ask them to leave."
Talbot was a Fresno State senior who worked at the school's orchard, so he would've been familiar with the farm. But police said his dirt bike had no lights and he probably never saw the pole he drove into.
Police don't know exactly what time the accident happened, but a reconstruction team spotted dew on the bike Wednesday morning, so they believe talbot had been there a while when joggers found him around 6:00 a.m.
A young life lost, but the Fresno State senior left behind a deep impact.
"He would give the biggest hug and always a kiss on the cheek and 'I love you,'" said Lori Mackey of her best friend's son, Joel Talbot.
Whether he was picking fruit on the Fresno State farm or out on the town enjoying time with his family and friends, Talbot's smile was a constant fixture on his face. It was part of why his life was filled with so many friends.
"Joel is, was, just an amazing person and he was loved by everybody who knew him and that's not an exaggeration," Mackey said. "I know people say that, but in his case it's very true."
Joel was a senior at Fresno State and about to launch into a new life with the same gusto he'd used since the beginning. His mom's best friend tells Action News what set him apart was his willingness to help-- whether as designated driver for friends or designated picker in the fields.
"From the time he was a little tiny kid," Mackey explained. "My husband would be out mowing the lawn and he'd come 'Can I help? Can I help? What can I do?' And that's just how it was from day one until the last day."
But Mackey wont remember him as he died, the image she'll see is more like the one she saw in their last meeting a couple weeks ago. Joel had missed a get together on Good Friday, so he came on Saturday and spent hours talking to his family friends about where he'd been and where he hoped to go.
"It just was with the biggest smile on his face and you could just tell he just loved life," she said.
His was a life barely started, but still filled with love.