NTSB: Drugged man caused Kalamazoo bike crash

Charles Pickett Jr. appears in court for a preliminary hearing. (Nov. 7, 2016)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Federal safety regulators have closed their investigation of a crash that killed five bicyclists near Kalamazoo, pinning the cause on a driver impaired by drugs.

The conclusion Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board comes a month after it released an interim report that criticized the 911 system in the Kalamazoo area. The board said better communication between dispatchers might have alerted police to stop the driver before the crash last June.

Kalamazoo Cycling Tragedy victims
Top, left to right: Debbie Bradley and Melissa Fevig-Hughes. Bottom, left to right: Tony Nelson, Larry Paulik and Suzanne Sippel.

Five cyclists were killed and four more were injured in the wreck in Kalamazoo County’s Cooper Township. Charles Pickett Jr. is facing charges of second-degree murder and driving under the influence of drugs. He is planning to plead insanity.

NTSB Acting Chairman Robert Sumwalt says there’s been a 20 percent increase in U.S. cyclist fatalities since 2011.