The visibility on the day of the Kalamazoo bicycling tragedy was "clear and unobstructed," and the driver of the pick-up truck was on medications and other drugs.
The National Transportation Safety Board recently released its preliminary findings of the Tuesday, June 7 crash, detailing the events which led to the death of five people and four others hurt. Government officials' study of the crash began days after, and the NTSB hopes lessons can be learned from its research to prevent similar incidents, according to the Associated Press.
Investigators last looked at cycling incidents -- beyond their usual inquires of plane crashes, train derailments and other crashes -- in the early 1970s, which makes this investigation rare, reports The Washington Post.
“What drew our attention to this were the five fatalities as well as the number of injured,” said investigator Pete Kotowski to the AP, adding that the agency also is interested in the effects of impaired driving. “The things we look at are the type of road, the lane markings, those things. We haven’t reached any conclusions yet.”
The initial findings note suspect the driver, Charles Pickett Jr., 50, of Battle Creek, "had used medications and illicit drugs before the crash." He faces five counts of second-degree murder as well as five counts of operating while intoxicated causing death.
In addition, Pickett also is charged with four counts of reckless driving causing impairment.
The bicyclists were riding around 6:29 p.m. northbound on Westnedge Avenue, single-file on a 4-foot-wide shoulder, according to the report. A 1996 Chevrolet pick-up truck approached the cyclists, left the roadway, went onto the shoulder and hit them.
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"Local police received multiple notifications of a pickup truck matching the accident vehicle’s description being operated in an erratic manner," the report states. The first call was received 22 minutes before the crash.
The preliminary report does not determine a probable cause -- that will be determined at the end of the investigation, which is ongoing.