LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- The box truck driver involved in a crash that killed five bicyclists was charged with multiple DUI counts, according to the Clark County District Attorney's Office and court records.
Jordan Alexander Barson faces five counts of DUI resulting in death, one count DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm and six counts of reckless driving, according to court records.
Clark County DA Steve Wolfson said the charges come after "significant amounts" of methamphetamine were found in Barson's system. Wolfson said the results came from a blood draw taken shortly after the crash.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Wolfson said. “I have said hundreds of times, to countless people, making the choice to get behind the wheel of a car when you are intoxicated is reckless. Those actions are unacceptable, and they have consequences. Tragically, this type of reckless behavior has left five people dead, several injured, and our community in mourning once again.”
About 9:39 a.m. Dec. 10 on US-95 south near Mile Mark 36, police units were called to the fatal crash. According to NHP Trooper Travis Smaka, bicycle enthusiasts were traveling together with a Subaru Hatchback "safety pickup" trailing behind. A handful of riders were trying to circumvent strong winds by coasting behind the safety vehicle, one of the surviving riders said. According to police, they were struck from behind by the truck "for reasons unknown" after it crossed into the bicycle lane.
Erin Michelle Ray (39), Gerrard Suarez Nieva (41), Michael Todd Murray (57), Aksoy Ahmet (48), and Thomas Chamberlin Trauger (57) died at the scene, the Clark County Coroner's Office said. All victims were from Las Vegas. The cause of death for the victims involved blunt force injuries to the body. The cause was ruled an accident, according to the coroner.
Wolfson said prosecutors believe that Barson fell asleep at the wheel at the time of the crash.
"That's negligence, that's recklessness," Wolfson said. "If you ingest drugs and if you become affected by those drugs, and if those drugs can cause you to fall asleep, that's reckless driving."
Following the crash, Barson, who was uninjured, remained on scene and cooperated with police. NHP's commercial units were called to inspect the truck's brakes, tires and overall function following the crash.
On Dec. 11, NHP said impairment was not suspected in the crash but that the investigation was in the very early stages.
Barson is currently in custody and awaiting extradition from Mojave County, Arizona, according to the DA's office. Wolfson said Barson was arrested Tuesday.
According to public records, Barson was previously faced drug and theft charges in 1995 in Coconino County, Arizona, but the drug charge was later dropped. According to Wolfson, Barson lived in Kingman, Arizona and was a commercial truck driver.
Wolfson said the loss of five lives "exponentially" increases the severity of this crash compared to other devastating crashes he has prosecuted in the past.
"Cyclists are a special group," Wolfson said. "I'm a cyclist myself, so a lot of people were affected by this one man's choice."