KALAMAZOO — Five bicyclists were killed Tuesday night and four others seriously injured after a pickup plowed into a group of bicyclists north of Kalamazoo, police said.
In the minutes before the bicyclists were hit, police were actively looking for the pickup as they had gotten three separate calls from concerned citizens that the driver was driving erratically, police said.
The bicyclists were in an organized group riding north on North Westnedge Avenue in Cooper Township when they were struck from behind shortly after 6:30 p.m., authorities say. The crash appears to be the worst in memory in terms of cyclists killed in a traffic collision.
Custer Cyclery, a shop in Augusta, shared this message on their Facebook page: “Our thoughts are with those injured and those lives lost so needlessly. I’m sure there will be friends, families and customers involved and their lives will never be the same. Drunk or Distracted there is really no excuse for not paying attention and respecting human life.” The business reminded drivers to put their phones away, don’t drink and drive, and look twice before pulling out in front of a cyclist or motorcyclist. “We are not just bicyclists but Mothers, Fathers, Children, Husbands, Wives, Sisters, Brothers, Aunts, Uncles, Sons and Daughters,” the Facebook post continues. “God please embrace those injured and open your arms to those taken tonight.”
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Update…… Charles Pickett, the driver of the pick-up, faces five counts of second-degree murder, along with four felony counts of reckless driving causing serious impairment, when he is arraigned, possibly on Friday.
Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting, at a Thursday afternoon news conference, declined to elaborate on how he arrived at the murder charges, which require intent to kill or willful disregard of the likelihood that one’s actions would cause death. Intoxication is not mentioned among the criminal charges. Getting said more evidence is being analyzed at Michigan State Police crime labs, and more charges are possible.