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5 Murder Charges Leveled At Man Accused Of Driving Truck Into Cyclists

The Kalamazoo Sheriff's Department says Charles Pickett Jr. ran into a group of nine cyclists on the 5500 block of North Westnedge Ave. He's been charged with murder in the case.

Two days after he was arrested for a crash that killed five cyclists on a Michigan road, Charles Pickett Jr. now faces five counts of second-degree murder. Police say Pickett drove his truck into a group of nine people who were riding bikes and then fled the scene.

In a Kalamazoo courthouse Thursday, Pickett was also charged with four counts of reckless driving causing serious impairment of body function.

In filing the charges, the Kalamazoo Sheriff's Department recalled some of the details of the case. Here's the police version of the events:

  • At 6:33 p.m. ET, a fatal hit-and-run incident involving a truck and bicycles was reported in Cooper Township;
  • Charles Pickett Jr. had been driving north on North Westnedge Ave when he struck nine cyclists who were traveling in the same direction;
  • Pickett bailed out of his truck and fled on foot – "he was located a short time later and identified as the driver of the truck involved in the incident," the agency says.

Yesterday, Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith told NPR's Newscast unit that the Kalamazoo County prosecutor had stated that before the crash, police received calls about a blue pickup driving erratically.

"We don't have any motive for why this happened," Prosecutor Jeff Getting said. "As far as I know, the bicyclists were not doing anything other than simply riding their bikes in a proper way along the road."

From Michigan Live comes this tally of the names and injuries of the victims in the crash:

"Killed were Debra Ann Bradley, 53, of Augusta; Melissa Ann Fevig-Hughes, 42, of Augusta; Fred Anton "Tony" Nelson, 73, of Kalamazoo; Lorenz John "Larry" Paulik, 74, of Kalamazoo and Suzanne Joan Sippel, 56, of Augusta.

"Four people were seriously injured. They are Paul Douglas Gobble, 47 of Richland, Sheila Diane Jeske, 53, of Richland, Jennifer Lynn Johnson, 40 of Kalamazoo and Paul Lewis Runnels, 65, of Richland. On Wednesday, Johnson was hospitalized in fair condition and Gobble, Jeske and Runnels were in serious condition."

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