Feds: Better 911 Contacts Might Have Prevented Fatal Bike Crash

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – The National Transportation Safety Board says better communication between police agencies might have prevented the deaths of five bicyclists last year in southwestern Michigan.

A pickup truck plowed into a pack of cyclists on a rural road near Kalamazoo last June. The driver, Charles Pickett Jr., is charged with second-degree murder and driving while under the influence of drugs. He remains held without bond.

The NTSB says 22 minutes passed between the first 911 call about an erratic driver and the crash in Cooper Township. The board says Pickett might have been intercepted by an officer if dispatchers for three police agencies had shared more information among themselves about three 911 calls.

NTSB member Earl Weener disagreed last week. He’s not convinced that communication by dispatchers was a contributing factor in the crash.

Part of a group that called themselves “The Chain Gang,” the bicyclists killed were Debra Ann Bradley, 53; Melissa Ann Fevig-Hughes, 42; Suzanne Joan Sippel, 56, all of Augusta; and Fred Anton “Tony” Nelson, 73, and Lorenz John “Larry” Paulik, 74, both of Kalamazoo.

The group was about five miles into a planned 30-mile ride when they were struck.

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