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Driver who ploughed into Michigan cyclists charged with 5 counts of murder (+ video)

Four other riders remain in hospital after Tuesday's tragedy in Kalamazoo...

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.

> Five cyclists killed in Michigan as pick-up truck driver ploughs into group ride

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 joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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