Charles Pickett Jr. Charged With 5 Counts of Murder for Deaths of Bicyclists in Kalamazoo

By Denisse Moreno, Epoch Times
June 9, 2016 5:55 pm Last Updated: June 9, 2016 6:26 pm

A 50-year-old Battle Creek man that struck a group of cyclists, killing five, in Michigan was charged on June 9 with five counts of second degree murder.

Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting also charged the driver, Charles Pickett Jr., with four counts of reckless driving, according to court documents.

The incident happened on June 7 in the Cooper Township, north of Kalamazoo, where Pickett Jr. drove his pick-up truck into the cyclists, killing five and injuring four more.

The bicyclists were part of a leisure group called “The Chain Gang,” ranging from ages 40 to 74. They were five miles into their weekly 30-mile ride when they were struck from behind on a two-lane road.  

Felony complaint against Charles Pickett Jr. by Kyle Sparks

Authorities say they had received calls about a driver in a pickup truck that was driving erratically. Police were looking for the vehicle minutes before the incident, at around 6:30 p.m.

Pickett Jr. ran from the scene, but was apprehended shortly after.

Police investigate the scene after multiple bicyclists were struck in a deadly crash Tuesday, June 7, 2016, in Cooper Township, Mich. (Bryan Bennett/Kalamazoo Gazette-MLive Media Group via AP)
Police investigate the scene after multiple bicyclists were struck in a deadly crash Tuesday, June 7, 2016, in Cooper Township, Mich. (Bryan Bennett/Kalamazoo Gazette-MLive Media Group via AP)

The co-founder of The Chain Gang, Mark Rose, said the members were not “hardcore.” He said they biked regularly as a form of exercise, friend time, and the “safety in numbers.”

“They were just casual cyclists who enjoyed the ride,” said Rose, 58, who no longer rides with the group.

“We enjoyed our time with her, incredible woman, incredible family, I’m at a loss for words to even talk about that,” Jack Kosin, who used to work with crash victim Deb Bradley, told WWMT.

“We lost a charismatic, loving, fiery member of our family in last nights bicycle accident. My Aunt was an incredible woman and I just can’t believe she’s gone,” said one of the victim’s family members on Facebook.

Those who died in the crash were Debra Bradley, 53, Melissa Fevig-Hughes, 42, Fred Nelson, 73, Lorenz Paulik, 74, and Suzanne Sippel, 56.

The individuals who were injured were Paul Gobble, 47, Sheila Jeske, 53, Jennifer Johnson, 40, and Paul Runnels, 65.

On June 8, a ride of silence took place in Kalamazoo to commemorate the victims.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.