BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — A Battle Creek man accused of hitting nine bicyclists, killing five riders faces five counts of second-degree murder.
Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting filed the charges against Charles Pickett Jr. Thursday.
Authorities said a blue Chevrolet pickup truck hit the cyclists from behind around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday near Markin Glen Park in the 5500 block of N. Westnedge Avenue in Cooper Township, north of Kalamazoo. Five people — Debbie Bradley, Melissa Fevig-Hughes, Tony Nelson, Larry Paulik and Suzanne Sippel — were killed
Pickett, 50, also faces four counts of reckless driving causing serious impairment for seriously injuring four other cyclists.
On Thursday, Bronson Methodist Hopsital said Paul Lewis Runnels remained in serious condition while Sheila Diane Jeske was upgraded to fair condition. Borgess Medical Center told 24 Hour News 8 that Jennifer Lynn Johnson remained in fair condition and Paul Douglas Gobble in serious condition.
Pickett was arrested in Rhea County, Tennessee, for driving under the influence in Feb. 2011, according to the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department. Court records show he was charged, but the DUI charge was later dismissed in Aug. 2011.
More than 500 bicyclists gathered in Kalamazoo Wednesday for Ride of Silence to memorialize the victims.
St. Thomas More will hold a community prayer service 7 p.m. Thursday at the church, located at 421 Monroe St. near Western Michigan University campus. That service is open to everyone of all faiths. It will also be aired on WXSP and online on woodtv.com.
The Kalamazoo Strong Organization has set up a fund for the victims of the crash and their families. You can donate at the organization’s website.