The truck driver who killed five US cyclists last week had methamphetamine in his system, according to prosecutors. Jordan Barson told Nevada Highway Patrol troopers he didn’t remember crashing into the group of cyclists on US Highway 95, and he must have fallen asleep at the wheel.
Around 18 cyclists were travelling together when the crash occurred on US Highway 95 south of Boulder City at around 9.40am on December 10.
Barson struck a number of them from behind after crossing into the bike lane and also hit a Subaru hatchback that had been travelling with the group as a ‘safety vehicle’.
Erin Ray, Gerrard Nieva, Michael Murray, Aksoy Ahmet, and Tom Trauger all died at the scene, while two others were seriously injured.
The New York Times reports that Barson has now been charged with multiple felonies after he was found to have the stimulant methamphetamine in his system.
He has been charged with five counts of driving under the influence resulting in death, one count of driving under the influence resulting in substantial bodily harm, and five counts of reckless driving resulting in death.
“There’s nothing out there,” commented one local cyclist familiar with the road. “You’d see cyclists coming for a while, so now it makes sense that he must have been impaired when he hit them.”
Clark County district attorney Steven B Wolfson said Wolfson had an “extremely high” level of methamphetamine in his system at the time of the collision.
“I’m at a loss for words,” he said. “I have said hundreds of times, to countless people, making the choice to get behind the wheel of a car when you are intoxicated is reckless. Those actions are unacceptable, and they have consequences.
“Tragically, this type of reckless behaviour has left five people dead, several injured, and our community in mourning once again.”
Barson initially told investigators he thought he had fallen asleep at the wheel of his box truck. He later admitted he had taken methamphetamine the afternoon before the crash and had not slept well that night.
Police body cam footage shot in the wake of the collision showed him repeatedly leaning against his truck for balance when asked to walk in a straight line.
Bicycling.com reports that the cyclists who lost their lives are to be honoured with a virtual memorial ride on Zwift tomorrow. A GoFundMe page has also so far raised over $96,000 for their families.