Charles Pickett Junior could serve as much as 75 years in prison following Kalamazoo tragedy

A motorist in Michigan who killed five cyclists and seriously injured four others when he ploughed into a group ride near Kalamazoo in 2016 has been jailed for a minimum of 40 years, and could serve a maximum sentence of 75 years in prison.

The cyclists, a group of friends who called themselves ‘The Chain Gang’ were out on their weekly ride when Charles Pickett Junior, aged 52, crashed into them in his pick-up truck in Cooper Township on 9 June 2016.

The Battle Creek Enquirer  reports that Pickett was sentenced to five consecutive terms of eight to 15 years for operating while intoxicated causing death.

He will also serve four concurrent terms of three to five years for operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing serious injury, and five concurrent terms of 35 to 55 years for second degree murdrer.

Pickett, who had been charged with five counts of second-degree murder, told the court: "I'll live with this the rest of my life.

"I would give my life for the people I murdered, killed and maimed, and I just want to say I'm sorry."

Judge Paul Bridenstine, however, was having none of it and told Pickett, who admitted having taken drugs that day and had been seen driving erratically, that he had ample opportunity to stop driving.

He told him: "The loss is massive and immeasurable. You selfishly and unnecessarily murdered five people and injured four others."

Pickett had been high on a mixture of prescription and illegal drugs at the time of the crash and claimed to have no memory of it.

But the judge said: "You have not expressed a considerable amount of remorse, and you have exhibited no emotion."

The cyclists who lost their lives were Tony Nelson, aged 73, Larry Paulik, 74, Melissa Fevig-Hughes, 42, Debra Bradley, 53, and Suzanne Sippel, 56.

Paul Gobble, 47, Sheila Jeske, 53, and Paul Runnels, 64 and Jennifer Johnson, 40, all sustained serious injuries.

In a victim impact statement, the latter said: "This tragedy deserves justice. Where is your remorse? Where is your suffering?"

Last week, on the second anniversary of the tragedy, a memorial to the victims was unveiled across the road from where they died.


Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.