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Drug driver who killed five cyclists jailed for at least 16 years

Jordan Barson crashed into group as they rode south of Las Vegas last December

A drugged driver who killed five cyclists and left two others seriously injured when he crashed into them last December has been jailed for a minimum of 16 years, and could spend as long as 40 years in prison.

Las Vegas district court judge Bita Yeager handed down two consecutive sentences of 8-20 years’ imprisonment yesterday to Jordan Barson, who had pleaded guilty to two charges of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs resulting in death, reports 8newsnow.

The judge also fined Barson, who had originally faced 14 separate charges, later reduced to two by plea bargain, $2,000 on both counts and to pay restitution totalling $58,000 to the families of three of the victims.

Barson, aged 45, had more than nine times the legal limit of methamphetamine in his system when he crashed his box truck into the group of cyclists on the US Route 95 highway near Searchlight, Arizona, on 10 December last year.

The five cyclists who died – all residents of Las Vegas – were Aksoy Ahmet, aged 48, Erin Michelle Ray, 39, Gerrard Suarez Nieva, 41, Michael Todd Murray, 57, and Thomas Chamberlin Trauger, 57. Two others, Jose Vasquez and Jerome Durocq, sustained serious injuries.

Prior to Judge Yeager passing sentence, family members of the victims spoke in court about their loss.

Donna Trauger, whose husband Tom was killed, said: “I wasn’t prepared when I drove out to the crash site and saw the letters HD and FT sprayed on the road and later learned that these were used to identify where the head and the feet of the victims lay dead.

“These words and images haunt me as I lie in bed at night, waiting, praying and hoping for sleep to come.”

Michael Murray’s brother Douglas, addressing the driver directly, said: “Jordan Barson, there are no words. There are no words to express what you have done to our family, what you did to my brother. I cannot imagine him laying out there in the road, looking at the carnage that this man created.”

Sentencing Barson, Judge Yeager said that she had to take account of the impact of his actions on the victims’ families.

“Their lives are forever affected because of that poor choice,” she said. “I also know the devastating effects this has had on [the] cycling community ... it is a tragedy when one cyclists dies ... but when there are five who died, two seriously injured, that is a catastrophe. And I know that that poor choice has rippled throughout [the] cycling community.”

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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