Pickup sought prior to West Mich. crash that killed 5

Detroit News staff and wire reports

Police fielded complaints that a pickup truck was being driven erratically just minutes before the vehicle slammed into a group of bicyclists in western Michigan, killing five, authorities said.

With 6-7-16 and R.I.P written on it, a white bike sits against a wooden cross, the scene of a  bicycle/truck accident in which five cyclists died and four were injured, along N. Westnedge Ave. near Kalamazoo, Michigan on June 8, 2016.

At least four more bicyclists were injured in the crash Tuesday night in Kalamazoo County’s Cooper Township, including one who was in critical condition Wednesday. None of the victims was a child, as was earlier reported.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims,” Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting said during a news conference at the Kalamazoo Township Police Department. “I can’t even begin to imagine what they’re going through.”

The driver of the pickup, described as a 50-year-old west Michigan man, fled from the wrecked vehicle and police caught him a short time later. No charges have yet been filed, but could come by Thursday, Getting said.

Police with several area agencies had been alerted to the pickup “over concerns” about his driving, Getting said. There was no active pursuit at the time of the accident, he said.

The bicyclists were riding as a group. Their names and ages were not immediately released.

Kalamazoo Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Getting speaks with media about a fatal crash involving several bicyclists Tuesday at the Kalamazoo Township Police Department in Kalamazoo Township.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Kalamazoo and particularly the cyclists and their families,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement. “The State Police were called to assist in the investigation and will continue to provide all the resources they can to help determine what exactly happened last night. What we already know for certain is that Michiganders as a family are in mourning today as Kalamazoo struggles to understand another senseless tragedy.”

Paramedics and fire crews rushed to the scene near a park within minutes of the bicyclists being hit, Getting said.

Authorities said the pickup slammed into the group of nine bicyclists about 7 p.m. Tuesday near a park in the 5500 block of North Westnedge, south of F Avenue in Cooper Township, WOOD-TV reported,

WOOD-TV reported that witnesses said the truck was driving erratically in the opposite direction of the bicyclists.

Markus Eberhard said the driver of the pickup almost ran over his foot, Wood reported. Before he could warn the cyclists, they were hit, he said.

“I saw a bunch of bikes hit the front of his truck and a couple of them flew,” Eberhard said.

Two of the victims were being treated late Tuesday at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, a hospital spokeswoman said. Other details, including their conditions, were not released.

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul G. Matyas did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Detroit News.

Cooper Township is south of Grand Rapids.

Township fire personnel remained at the scene for hours Tuesday.