Prosecutor: Truck driver high on meth when he killed 5 cyclists in Nevada

(CBS NEWS) – The driver of a box truck that struck and killed five bicyclists on a stretch of Nevada highway last week, and told investigators he fell asleep at the wheel, 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, according to the criminal complaint filed in Las Vegas.

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Jordan Alexander Barson/MOHAVE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

“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.

“That’s a deadly combination,” Wolfson told CBS affiliate KLAS-TV. “He took lives. He devastated the cycling community and all of Las Vegas, I mean people are affected by this.”

Barson was arrested Wednesday and booked into the Mohave County Jail in Kingman, sheriff’s spokeswoman Anita Mortensen said. Wolfson said he will be extradited to Nevada, where the charges he faces could put him in state prison for decades.

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 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.

“I’ve seen stuff as a police officer in public service … when it’s your friends, I’ve never seen that,” Anderson said. “It’s the worst thing I could ever see in my life.”

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.

For more information on how you can help the victims and their families, click here.

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