A driver who killed five cyclists in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Tuesday afternoon when his pick-up truck ploughed into them has been charged with five counts of second-degree murder.
Charles Pickett Jr, aged 50, who was arrested by police after trying to flee the scene on foot, was also charged with four counts of reckless driving causing serious impairment of body function, reports NPR.org.
Prior to Pickett crashing into the group of cyclists, police had been searching for a blue pick-up truck after receiving multiple reports of one being driven “erratically” in the area.
Under Michigan state law, second degree murder is defined as an unplanned, intentional killing, or a death caused by a reckless disregard for human life. It carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Unlike first-degree murder, the prosecution does not have to prove premeditation on the defendant’s part.
The victims were all members of a group who went out for rides each Tuesday evening. They have been named as Debra Ann Bradley, aged 53, Melissa Ann Fevig-Hughes, 42, Fred Anton "Tony" Nelson, 73, Lorenz John "Larry" Paulik, 74, and Suzanne Joan Sippel, 56.
Four other riders – Jennifer Lynn Johnson, 40, Paul Douglas Gobble, 47, Sheila Diane Jeske, 53, and Paul Lewis Runnels, 65, remain in hospital, with the condition of the last three described as serious.
On Wednesday evening, hundreds of cyclists gathered in Kalamazoo to pay tribute to the five who died, with footage of part of their ride posted to Facebook.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.