Suspect in fatal bicyclist crash charged with OWI

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The man accused of hitting nine bicyclists, killing five, has been formally charged with five counts of operating while intoxicated causing death.

Charles Pickett Jr., 50, was arraigned Wednesday on the new charges following lab results.

Image of Charles Pickett arraignment courtesy WOOD-TV
Image of Charles Pickett arraignment courtesy WOOD-TV

Prosecutor Jeff Getting said Pickett was driving under the influence of a controlled substance, but did not specify what the substance was.

He was previously arraigned on five counts of second-degree murder and four counts of reckless driving causing serious impairment. The reckless driving charges have been amended to four counts of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury. A judge denied bond citing the possibility that he could be a flight risk and a danger to the community.

A judge has ordered Pickett to undergo a competency exam at the request of his attorney. His preliminary hearing has been postponed as as result.

Authorities say the bicyclists were riding in a group near Markin Glen Park on N. Westnedge Avenue in Cooper Township when a pickup truck hit them from behind on June 7. Five people — Debbie Bradley, Melissa Fevig-Hughes, Tony Nelson, Larry Paulik and Suzanne Sippel — were killed. Four others were hurt.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the fatal crash.

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