LANSING, MICH. (WLNS)- Five people riding their bicycles were killed and four others were hurt when a truck plowed into their bike group last night near Kalamazoo.
Within half an hour before the crash, three police agencies received calls complaining of a reckless driver in a blue pick-up. And while wearing the right clothing, even riding in a visible path line can prevent crashes between bicycles and automobiles, with a driver one witness described as erratic, the fate of the bikers was beyond their control.
“It sounded like he hit a tree. Like it didn’t sound like he collided with people, bikes,” says a woman who was on the scene.
In just seconds, an evening ride becomes nightmare, when this blue pick-up truck barreled through a pack of cyclists, killing five and sending another four to the hospital, as tragedy rocks Kalamazoo-again.
“I’m at a loss to describe how I feel. I’m at a loss to describe the impact to the community from these incidents,” said Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting at a press conference late Tuesday night.
Getting says a 50-year-old man was behind the wheel, fled when his vehicle became disabled, and was then taken into police custody.
“As I’m walking out after he tried running over my foot, he swerved back on the road, and then got back over and then before I can tell the bikers to move or watch out that’s… boom,” described a man who was fishing nearby.
“Our hearts are heavy today…Michigan Cycling Community… we’re definitely thinking about our cycling friends in Kalamazoo,” says League of Michigan Bicyclists’ executive director, John Lindenmayer.
Lindenmayer wants people to know bright clothes and vigilance on the road can keep cyclists safe.
“When you more or less take the lane, or ride a little bit further over in the lane, it forces drivers to slow down and wait until it’s the safe opportunity to pass you,” he adds.
Lidenmayer also says riding on the sidewalk is not a safer alternative. And no matter whom you are-driver or cyclist, on the road, respect is key.
“We’re all just people trying to get to where we need to go. We’re fathers… we’re mothers, we’re sons and daughters,” he says.
Lindenmayer also tells me Michigan is one of only 11 states without specific laws pushing drivers to carefully pass cyclists. The Lansing based league wants to expand the penalties associated with such crashes so everyone can be safe on the road.
Prosecutor Getting says he expects the police investigation findings tomorrow and then he will determine what, if any charges should be filed.
We’re following this developing story and will be here for you with the latest.