Rides to mark 1 year since Kalamazoo cycling tragedy

Five cyclists were killed on Westnedge Avenue in Cooper Twp. on June 7, 2016

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.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Two events are scheduled for Wednesday evening to mark the one-year anniversary of the crash that took the lives of five bicyclists near Kalamazoo.

On the evening of June 7, 2016, a pickup truck barreled into a Kalamazoo cycling group called The Chain Gang on Westnedge Ave, near Markin Glen Park in Cooper Township. Debbie Bradley, Melissa Fevig-Hughes, Tony Nelson, Larry Paulik and Suzanne Sippel were killed and four other riders were seriously injured.

Kalamzoo bicycling tragedy, ghost bikes, cooper township
Ghost bikes sit at the scene of where five bicyclists were killed in Cooper Township. (June 8, 2016)

Led by the survivors of the crash, the Chain Gang will “finish the ride” on Wednesday. The event starts at 6 p.m. in the Kalamazoo County Health Services parking lot on Gull Road.

There will be two routes: One, which will cover 28.5 miles, will follow the same route the nine riders started last year, and pass the crash site. The memorial ride will then take riders north to Plainwell before they return to Kalamazoo.

A second 12-mile route will go to the crash site, where riders will turn around and go back to the starting point. People who will not be riding are encouraged to line the ride routes.

>>Online: 28-mile route map | 12-mile route map

The Chain Gang is asking riders to donate at least $20. The money will be used to build a memorial at the crash site. You can register and donate online at the group’s website.

Anyone seeking more information on the ride can contact Mark Rose, the founder of the Chain Gang, via email or at 269.207.2398.

Before the ride at 5 p.m., a public Mass will be held at St. Thomas More Student Parish in Kalamazoo, which Nelson and Paulik attended. Hundreds of people are expected to attend.

The driver who police say is responsible for the crash, Charles Pickett Jr., is charged with second-degree murder in the case. Authorities say he was driving under the influence of drugs. He is planning to plead insanity.

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