10 June 2016

Murder Charges Against Driver Who Ran Down Cyclists Near Kalamazoo

Five counts of second-degree felony murder have been authorized against 50-year-old Charles E. Pickett of Battle Creek, Michigan.

He's the driver of the blue Chevrolet pickup truck that plowed into a group of cyclists near Kalamazoo.  Debra Ann Bradley, Melissa Ann Fevig-Hughes, Fred Anton (Tony) Nelson, Lorenz John (Larry) Paulik and Suzanne Joan Sippel died in the carnage.  Jennifer Lynn Johnson, Paul Douglas Gobble, Sheila Diane Jeske and Paul Lewis Runnels are still hospitalized.

Authorities aren't yet saying what might've caused Pickett to drive into the group of cyclists, who had been riding together every Tuesday night for more than a decade. 

According to eyewitness testimony and other reports, the truck had been moving erratically half an hour before the tragedy.  That, and other factors, have caused speculation that Pickett might have been intoxicated.  He has no history of traffic violations, or any criminal history, in the state of Michigan.  However, a Facebook page for "Charles E. Pickett" shows a number of sexually provocative messages as well as a profile picture with a skull and revolvers that reads, "Never water yourself down just because someone can't handle you at 100 proof."

When a news crew from a local television station went to his home, a family member threatened to chase them with a front-end loader and followed them in a car before a brief verbal exchange ensued.

Whatever might have caused Pickett to run down the cyclists, I am gratified that the authorities are taking the case seriously.   The victims were parents, grandparents, siblings, friends and beloved members of their communities, not just "cyclists".  There seems to be a real attempt to achieve justice.  However, justice is all that can be achieved. It is not a substitute for a life--or, more specifically, the lives of parents, grandparents, siblings, friends and beloved members of their communities who were out for a ride when, to paraphrase Albert Camus in The Plague, death descended upon them from the clear blue sky.

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