(KALAMAZOO, Mich.) — The motorist who allegedly struck and killed five cyclists and injured four more in Kalamazoo, Michigan Tuesday night has been charged with second-degree murder, prosecutors said.
Charles Pickett Jr., 50, was also charged with reckless driving causing serious injury. Prosecutors alleged that he committed the act in willful and wanton disregard, causing “serious impairment of bodily function” to the four injured victims.
The motorist faces a total of nine felonies, one for each of the people he struck.
The second-degree murder charge is punishable by up to life in prison, while the reckless driving charge is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison. The driver will not be arraigned today due to medical problems, which could be resolved as soon as tomorrow, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors would not disclose the medical issue, citing privacy.
On Tuesday night, nine cyclists were struck from behind by a blue Chevy pickup truck as they were traveling on a roadway in Kalamazoo.
Pickett allegedly did not stop his truck after hitting the cyclists, and police found him a short distance away. He was outside of his vehicle when he was apprehended, officials said in court today.
Kalamazoo County prosecutors said the second-degree murder charge is somewhat unusual, but they believe the charges are appropriate considering the evidence they say they have about the Pickett’s alleged actions leading up to the incident. The charges can be changed depending on new evidence, prosecutors said.
Those killed were identified by police Wednesday as Debra Ann Bradley, 53, of Augusta, Melissa Ann Fevig-Hughes, 42, of Augusta, Fred Anton Nelson, 73, of Kalamazoo, Lorenz (Larry) John Paulik, 74, of Kalamazoo and Suzanne Joan Sippel, 56, of Augusta.
As of Wednesday morning, two other victims were in serious condition, the Bronson Medical Hospital said in a statement. A third remained in critical condition and another in fair condition, the Borgess Medical Center said. It is unclear if the status of their conditions has changed.
They were not on one of their regularly scheduled rides when they were struck, Mark Irwin of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club told ABC News Wednesday.
Last night, about 600 cyclists rode to pay tribute to those killed in the incident.
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