Update: Charles Pickett Jr., 50, of Battle Creek was charged Thursday on five counts of 2nd degree murder and four counts of reckless driving causing serious impairment. MichiganLive reports he could face live in prison if convicted or the murder charges.
This is hard to take. Our hearts go out to the victims and their friends and family.
On Tuesday evening, the driver of a pickup truck plowed into a group of cyclists out for a spin near their home in Kalamazoo County, Michigan.
Five were killed and four injured. They ranged in age from 40 to 73.
The nine cyclists belonged to a group calling themselves “The Chain Gang.” The co-founder said the group formed 15 years ago for friends who felt safer riding in a group.
“They were just casual cyclists who enjoyed the ride,” said Mark Rose.
You can assume the nine were enjoying their ride Tuesday evening when they left Kalamazoo for a jaunt to Plainwell and back. Post-ride activities often included a stop at Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing downtown.
As they got to a small incline on North Westnedge Avenue, the speeding pickup truck slammed into the group from behind. Police had already received reports of the man behind the wheel driving erratically.
The driver was arrested at the scene.
The dead are: Tony Nelson, 73, and Larry Paulik, 74, both of Kalamazoo, and Debra Bradley, 53; Melissa Fevig-Hughes, 42, and Suzanne Sippel, 56, all of Augusta.
Listed in serious condition are Paul Gobble, 47; Sheila Jeske, 53, and Paul Runnels, 65, all of Richland. Jennifer Johnson, 40, of Kalamazoo, was reported in fair condition, according to the MichiganLive website.
More than 100 gathered Wednesday night for a silent bike ride to honor those killed and injured in the crash. A cross and ghost bike were left at the scene.
Reports say that it was the worst bicycle crash in Michigan history, and possibly the nation.
It reminds us to do what we can to make the roads safe for everyone.