Driver Charged with DUI After Crash That Killed 5 Cyclists Riding Together on Nevada Highway
The D.A. says Jordan Barson was charged after "significant amounts" of methamphetamine were found in his system
A driver who left five cyclists dead after allegedly veering into their group on a Nevada highway faces multiple charges of driving under the influence after methamphetamine allegedly found in his system created the possibility that he fell asleep at the wheel, says a prosecutor.
“I have said hundreds of times, to countless people, making the choice to get behind the wheel of a car when you are intoxicated is reckless," says Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, reports KLAS.
"Those actions are unacceptable, and they have consequences," he says. "Tragically, this type of reckless behavior has left five people dead, several injured, and our community in mourning once again."
The charges against Jordan Alexander Barson, 45, were filed after a blood test allegedly revealed "significant amounts" of methamphetamine in Barson's system after the crash, Wolfson told AZFamily.com.
Cyclists Erin Ray, 39; Gerrard Nieva, 41; Michael Murray, 57; Aksoy Ahmet, 48; and Tom Trauger, 57, all died on the scene, fellow cyclist Michael Anderson shared in a GoFundMe post written to raise money for his friends' funerals.
The allegations against Barson include six felony charges of DUI — five resulting in death, and one resulting in substantial bodily harm to an injured rider.
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"Cyclists are a special group," Wolfson said, according to AZFamily. "I'm a cyclist myself, so a lot of people were affected by this one man's choice."
A group of about 20 cyclists were pedaling along the Nipton Loop, a route covering about 130 miles — a route they cycle together every year — when the accident occurred around 9:40 a.m. Dec. 10 on U.S. Highway 95, near Searchlight, Nevada, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Searchlight is an unincorporated town about 60 miles south of Las Vegas.
Anderson, a retired Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officer, told the Review-Journal that the ride was going smoothly until the morning turned windy, prompting about seven cyclists to start riding behind the group's support, or SAG, vehicle.
Then, the box truck driven by Barson struck the cyclists that had fallen behind, and the escort vehicle was pushed into the front group of cyclists.
"Basically, the speed of the box truck, when it hit the riders that were behind the SAG vehicle, basically pinned them between the truck and the vehicle," Anderson told KSNV News 3.
Barson was uninjured in the crash, and remained on scene where he cooperated with police.
The cause of death for each of the victims was listed as blunt force trauma, and ruled accidental.
Wolfson said of the driver, “He chose to ingest methamphetamine and drive under its influence, which could have caused him to fall asleep at the wheel," reports KLAS.
“That’s a deadly combination and he ruined a number of people’s lives, he took lives, he devastated the cycling community,” he said.
An attorney who might speak for Barson was not immediately identified. Wolfson's office said he was arrested Tuesday and was awaiting extradition to Clark County from Mohave County, Arizona.