Truck Crashes Into Nine Bicyclists, Killing Five

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Driver Who Killed Cyclists Charged with Murder

Last Tuesday, a group of nine bicyclists who called themselves ‘The Chain Gang’ were hit by a pickup truck around 6:30 p.m. near Kalamazoo. The driver of the pickup, Charles Edward Pickett, Jr. of Battle Creek, Michigan, attempted to flee the scene on foot. Pickett, age 50, was apprehended by police a short distance from the scene of the hit and run accident.

Five of the cyclists were killed in the tragic accident:

  • Debra Bradley, 53, of Augusta, Michigan
  • Melissa Fevig-Hughes, 42, of Augusta
  • Suzanne Sippel, 56, of Augusta
  • Fred Nelson, 73, of Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Lorenz Paulik, 74, of Kalamazoo

The other four cyclists were injured in the accident, with two remaining in serious condition by the week’s end. The injured bicyclists are:

  • Paul Gobble, 47, of Richland, Michigan
  • Sheila Jeske, 53, of Richland
  • Paul Runnels, 65, of Richland
  • Jennifer Johnson, 40, of Kalamazoo

Prior to the accident, there were at least four phone calls placed to local police reporting the erratic driving of Charles Edward Pickett, Jr. Unfortunately, detectives had still not caught up to the white pickup by the time it collided with the group of bicyclists 30 minutes later. On Thursday, June 9, Pickett was charged with five counts of second-degree murder and four counts of reckless driving causing serious impairment. Bond was not immediately set, as Pickett was unable to attend an arraignment due to a medical condition.

This tragic accident has saddened not only the cycling community, but the larger Kalamazoo and Michigan communities as well. The attorneys and staff at The Lee Steinberg Law Firm extend our condolences to the families of those lost and injured and will continue to follow the stories of the survivors, to whom we wish a full recovery.

Accident Prompts Investigation and Inspired Memorial Ride

Car crashes involving adult bicyclists have been on the rise for several years, a statistic reflective of the significant increase in the number of adult cyclists, especially in those using bicycles to commute to and from work. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been heavily invested in reviewing the facts of this case. They’ve studied many of the technical aspects of the accident, including lines of sight, the type of road, lane markings, etc. They hope to be able to draw critical information from this tragedy that will help prevent such a terrible accident from occurring in the future. This investigation is in addition to the crash investigation being completed by the police.

The team of bicyclists and friends were just a few miles into a planned 30-mile trip, and local cyclists are planning a memorial ride from Kalamazoo to the group’s planned final destination in Plainwell. Former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong has arrived in Kalamazoo and will be joining local bicyclist groups in “Finishing the Ride” to honor those lost and injured in this accident. The group will start their ride at 6:30 pm Tuesday and at the request of family members and survivors, will be limited to an intimate group of those directly touched by the accident, as well as the Kalamazoo cycling community.

The Lee Steinberg Law Firm Fight for Michigan Bicyclists

In accidents with larger, more powerful vehicles, bicyclists are vulnerable to life-threatening injuries. The bicycle accident experts at The Lee Steinberg Law Firm have a long history of ensuring injured cyclists or families of those lost receive the compensation they need and deserve. If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycling accident, call us today for your no-cost, risk-free consultation: 1-800-LEE-FREE (533-3733).