June 21, 2021 23:53

5 cyclists killed, 3 injured as box truck hits group of riders

LAS VEGAS — Members of a cycling group were grieving Thursday after five riders in their annual Nevada-California border-area trek were killed when a box truck struck them, according to reports.

Three more members of the group of about 20 riders were injured in the horrific crash, according to FOX 5 of Las Vegas.

“Just know that five of my really good friends are dead right now,” cyclist Michael Anderson, a retired Las Vegas police officer, told the station. “We do this Nipton Loop every year, no problems. This year was just at the wrong place, wrong time.”

The truck’s speed was likely a key factor in the crash, Anderson said, although the case remained under investigation.

The bicyclists were traveling southbound on Highway 95 just south of Boulder City – part of a 130-mile course they had mapped out – when the crash occurred “for reasons unknown” around 9:30 a.m., police told FOX 5.

Just before the deadly collision, a group of about seven bicyclists broke away from other members of the group and rode behind a Subaru hatchback safety vehicle as they dealt with strong winds along the roadway, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported.

The technique is used by riders to circumvent strong winds by coasting behind the safety vehicle, one of the surviving riders said.

Then suddenly the truck struck them from behind while they were reportedly in the bicycling lane, FOX 5 reported.

“I’ve seen stuff as a police officer in public service. … When it’s your friends, I’ve never seen that,” Anderson told FOX 5. “It’s the worst thing I could ever see in my life.”

The truck driver was not injured and remained on the scene, cooperating with authorities, according to the news organization.

Nevada Highway Patrol commercial enforcement arrived at the scene to check the truck’s brakes, tires and overall functioning following the multiple-fatality. Moreover, the driver was not believed to have been impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Decisions on charging the driver appear to be deferred until the accident reconstruction has been completed, which could take several days.

The roadway was reopened by late afternoon.

Boulder City is about 26 miles southeast of downtown Las Vegas.

Cycling is allowed on most state roads in Nevada despite speed limits for motor vehicles as high as 75 mph, Tony Illia, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation, told the Las Vegas Review Journal.

Gov. Steve Sisolak posted condolences in a Twitter message.

“I was devastated to hear this news this morning,” the governor wrote. “Kathy and I are sending all our love to the families affected and to those on the scene responding to the situation.”

The Nevada crash was reminiscent of previous multiple fatalities that occurred in New Hampshire in June 2019, when seven motorcycle riders, including five Marines, were killed in a collision with a pickup truck; and another from July 2020, when three members of the “Thin Blue Line” motorcycle club were killed in Kerrville, Texas.

 

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