The district attorney told the court Wednesday that the emotional wounds Jordan Barson, 45, caused by striking and killing the cyclists "will forever remain open and bleeding"

By KC Baker
June 11, 2021 01:34 PM
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Cyclists affiliated with group involved in crash
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A truck driver who killed five bicyclists in Nevada after crashing into them while under the influence of methamphetamine in December has been sentenced to up to 40 years in prison.

On Wednesday, Jordan Barson, 45, appeared in the Eighth Judicial District Court in Clark County where a district judge sentenced him to an aggregate 16 to 40 years in prison, the Associated Press, KVVU, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal report.

In April, as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, Barson pleaded guilty to two charges of DUI resulting in death, online court records show.

Jordan Alexander Barson
Credit: Mohave County Jail/AP/Shutterstock

Clark County District Attorney Steven Wolfson said Barson will be eligible for parole after serving 16 years in prison, The New York Times reports.

Before District Judge Bita Yeager handed down the sentence, Chief Deputy District Attorney Thomas Moskal said in court, "The price to be paid must be of the highest nature because the cost could not be greater than in a case like this," the Review-Journal reports.

"The wounds inflicted by Mr. Barson will at best be mental and emotional scars as noticeable on these victims as if the scars were on their face when they looked in the mirror," he said. "At worst, the wounds will forever remain open and bleeding."

On the morning of Dec. 10, 2020, a group of about 20 cyclists were pedaling along the 130-mile Nipton Loop on U.S. Highway 95, near Searchlight, about 60 miles south of Las Vegas, which they'd done in years past, the Review-Journal reports.

During the ride, the wind picked up, prompting about seven cyclists to pedal behind the group's support vehicle, retired Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officer Michael Anderson told the Review-Journal.

Then, the box truck Barson was driving struck the cyclists who were behind the support vehicle.

"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.

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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 cause of death for each of the victims was listed as blunt force trauma.

Barson was uninjured in the crash and remained on the scene where he cooperated with police.

He was charged after a blood test revealed "significant amounts" of methamphetamine in his system after the crash, Wolfson told AZFamily.com.

"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," Wolfson said after the crash, KLAS reports.

"Those actions are unacceptable, and they have consequences," he said. "Tragically, this type of reckless behavior has left five people dead, several injured, and our community in mourning."

During the sentencing hearing, victims' relatives told the court about the pain they'd endured since the tragic accident.

Donna Trauger, who lost her husband, Michael Trauger, who she called her "soul mate," told the judge she keeps his ashes in an urn on a dresser next to her bed and his toothbrush, razor and a tag from a hoodie where he left them on the bathroom sink, the Review-Journal reports.

"I can't bear to remove any of it," she said. "I'm not ready to remove any trace of him. It's all I have left."

Barson's lawyer, Damien Sheets, has previously said Barson is "incredibly sorry for what he did" and "wanted the families to have some closure," the Times reports.

Sheets did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.