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.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.