LAS VEGAS — The driver of a box truck that struck and killed five bicyclists on a stretch of Nevada highway last week told investigators he fell asleep at the wheel but had a high level of methamphetamine in his system, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Jordan Alexander Barson, 45, of Kingman, Arizona, faces 12 felony charges including driving under the influence and reckless driving in a criminal complaint filed in Las Vegas.
“Choices have consequences,” Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said after a Las Vegas judge issued a warrant for Barson’s arrest in the Dec. 10 crash on U.S. 95 between Boulder City and Searchlight, Nevada.
“We all make decisions every day,” Wolfson said. “This was a choice the defendant made to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.”
Barson was being held in custody at the Mohave County Jail in Kingman, Wolfson said, pending a court appearance there and extradition to Nevada. The charges he faces could put him in state prison for decades.
Court and jail records do not show that Barson has an attorney.
Prosecutor Eric Bauman said Barson told investigators he was driving his regular work route between Las Vegas, the Colorado River town of Bullhead City, Arizona, and Kingman when he fell asleep.
Blood tests showed Barson had nine times an allowable amount of methamphetamine in his system, Bauman said.
The flat-faced truck plowed into at least seven bicyclists trailing a Subaru Outback support vehicle amid about 20 cyclists making an annual 130-mile ride from Las Vegas through scenic desert in Nevada and California, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol and riders in the group.
Two injured bicyclists were taken to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, and the driver of the Subaru, David Merrill, also was injured, the Highway Patrol said. A third bicyclist was treated for minor injuries at the scene about 60 miles (97 kilometres) south of Las Vegas.
Michael Anderson, a retired Las Vegas police officer who was in the group, told reporters they bicycled the so-called Nipton Loop for 15 years. U.S. 95 in the area is a flat, straight and divided highway with a vehicle speed limit of 75 mph (121 kph).
Killed were Las Vegas residents Erin Michelle Ray, 39, a real estate agent; Gerrard Suarez Nieva, 41, a medical care technician; Michael Todd Murray, 57, a former motorcycle racer; Aksoy Ahmet, 48, a stay-at-home father of three; and Thomas Chamberlin Trauger, 57, chief financial officer at the Sports Basement recreational gear chain in the Bay Area.
Ken Ritter, The Associated Press