Michigan – In the Kalamazoo County, a man driving a pickup truck was accused of killed five people when he crashed into a group of cyclists on June 7. Police reports show that the man was intoxicated with drugs he had taken less than two hours before the incident.

Charles Pickett Jr., 50, was initially charged with second-degree murder while charges of driving under the influence of drugs were pressed later. Although a prosecutor had already proven the driver was not of a sober state, later reports specified exactly what he had taken. Investigators had found marijuana, methamphetamine, and alcohol in his truck at the time of the incident.

State police crime lab investigates the evidence from the scene where five cyclists were killed, and four were injured Tuesday, June 7, in a hit-and-run crash. Credit: Mark Bugnaski/Kalamazoo Gazette.

Pickett’s girlfriend reported her partner’s erratic behavior the weekend before the crash, saying that he would not let her leave their hotel room in Oshtemo Township, Kalamazoo County. She claimed to have witnessed Pickett take 16 to 20 muscle relaxers followed by ten painkillers one hour and a half before the accident. Pickett allegedly told her that it was not the first time he had taken such a quantity and that he would be better off dead. She also mentioned that the driver was upset about the passing of his cousin and their relationship: saying that he thought he would never see her again.

The Chain Gang Bicycle Group was taking its weekly 45-kilometer ride on North Westnedge Avenue near Markin Glen County Park in Cooper Township when they were unexpectedly hit by Pickett’s truck from behind. Police reports revealed that Pickett was not driving on the road at the time of the accident but rather on the right shoulder when he crashed into the cyclists.

A witness told police that he did not see the brake lights come on, showing that Pickett did not attempt to slow down as he approached the group of people on their bicycles. In addition to the five deaths, four cyclists were injured as they were struck from behind on the two-lane road in Cooper Township, about 257 kilometers from Chicago.

Defense lawyer Alan Koenig requested from a judge that his client undergoes a mental health exam to determine that he is fully cognizant of the charges placed against him and that he can assist his attorney. The request was granted, and Pickett’s next hearing is set for 31 August.

The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting their investigations of the crash. The reports were obtained on Wednesday from the Kalamazoo Gazette of the County sheriff’s department under the Freedom of Information Act.

Roadside drug tests

Michigan State Police are working on a pilot program where they will be performing saliva-based drug tests on the side of the road in five counties. The counties will be determined by the following criteria: a number of impaired driving crashes, impaired drivers arrested and the number of Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) trained in the region.

The saliva analysis will only be administered by a DRE and will be given in accordance with the drug recognition 12-step evaluation currently in use.

Source: Detroit News