5 bicyclists killed, 4 injured after hit by vehicle near Kzoo

Four more victims hospitalized after Cooper Township crash

Cooper Township, Westnedge Avenue, fatal bicycle crash
The scene after five bicyclists were killed after being struck b y a pickup truck along Westnedge Avenue in Cooper Township. (June 7, 2016)


COOPER TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Five bicyclists were killed and four more were hurt Tuesday evening when they were hit by a pickup truck north of Kalamazoo.

The crash happened around 6:35 p.m. in the 5500 block of N. Westnedge Avenue south of F Avenue in Cooper Township. That’s near Markin Glen Park.

Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo said it was treating two of the victims; both were in serious condition Wednesday. Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo also said it was treating two patients. One was listed in critical condition and the other in fair condition Wednesday morning.

>>Inside woodtv.com: Complete coverage of Kalamazoo cycling tragedy

Cooper Township, Westnedge Avenue, fatal bicycle crash
The scene after five bicyclists were killed after being struck b y a pickup truck along Westnedge Avenue in Cooper Township. (June 7, 2016)

Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said at a press conference about four hours after the crash that all of the victims were adults and that the survivors all sustained serious injuries. Authorities would not release any further information about any of the victims Tuesday night pending the notification of their family members.

A witness said the bicyclists appeared to be a group that often rides together in the area, but Getting wouldn’t comment on that.

The group of bicyclists was struck by a blue Chevrolet pickup truck as they rode along Westnedge. Witnesses said the truck was driving erratically.

Markus Eberhard said he was leaving Markin Glen Park after fishing when someone shouted at him to watch out. He said the pickup nearly ran over his foot. He said before he could “tell the bikers to move or watch out,” the pickup hit them.

“I saw a bunch of bikes hit the front of his truck and a couple of them flew,” Eberhard said.

“All I heard was a pop and a really big crash noise,” another witness, Arika Kruger, said.

Prosecutor Getting said the first emergency responders arrived in about two minutes. Five of the bicyclists were pronounced dead at the scene.

Kruger said she saw four ambulances leave the scene; three had lights on, one had lights and sirens running.

“We didn’t see anybody walk away,” she said. “I pray for these families, I really do, because this is really tragic.”

The pickup was disabled in the crash, Getting said. Kruger said it sustained heavy front-end damage.

A driver ran after the crash, but was found a short distance away and taken into police custody, Getting said. He was described only as a 50-year-old man from West Michigan Tuesday night.

A cross was placed on N. Westnedge Avenue in Cooper Township where five bicyclists were killed after being struck b y a pickup truck. (June 8, 2016)
A cross was placed on N. Westnedge Avenue in Cooper Township where five bicyclists were killed after being struck b y a pickup truck. (June 8, 2016)

Multiple police and fire agencies remained on the scene for hours after the crash. The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation while Michigan State Police are handling crash reconstruction.

In the about 30 minutes before the crash, calls came in to the City of Kalamazoo police (at 6:08 p.m.), the sheriff’s department (6:13 p.m.) and Kalamazoo Township police (6:21 p.m.) with concerns about the way a man was driving a blue pickup truck, Getting said. Officers were looking for that vehicle, but had not yet spotted it and were not pursuing it at the time of the crash.

The first 911 call about the crash came in at 6:36 p.m.

Getting said he didn’t expect to review the investigation into the crash until Thursday at the earliest, after which he would determine what, if any, charges were appropriate.

Below, watch Getting’s press conference from Tuesday night. App users can click here to watch.

Gov. Rick Snyder released a statement Wednesday morning regarding the crash.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Kalamazoo and particularly the cyclists and their families. The State Police were called to assist in the investigation and will continue to provide all the resources they can to help determine what exactly happened last night. What we already know for certain is that Michiganders as a family are in mourning today as Kalamazoo struggles to understand another senseless tragedy.”

This is the second time in less than four months that the community of Kalamazoo has dealt with tragedy.

Six people were shot and killed and two others were seriously injured in the Kalamazoo area on Feb. 20. Jason Dalton is facing 16 criminal charges in the shooting rampage.

“It’s sad. We haven’t healed from the first mass tragedy that we’ve experienced and here our city has been hit with another one. But Kalamazoo is strong and we rally together, we take care of our own,” said Rachel Keiser with the Kalamazoo Strong Organization.

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.

–24 Hour News 8’s Heather Walker and Sarah Hurwitz contributed to this report.

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Online:

Support the Survivors of Kalamazoo Bicycle Tragedy’s Facebook page

Kalamazoo Strong Organization

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