LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The driver of a box truck that killed five bicyclists and injured three others last week is facing DUI charges after methamphetamine was found in his system, according to Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson.
The I-Team has learned that Jordan Alexander Barson, 45, fell asleep and had meth in his system when he veered off into the bike lane.
According to Wolfson, “He chose to ingest methamphetamine and drive under its influence, which could have caused him to fall asleep at the wheel.”
“That’s a deadly combination and he ruined a number of people’s lives, he took lives, he devastated the cycling community,” Wolfson said.
Barson struck the bicyclists and an escort vehicle as the group traveled south on U.S. 95 toward Arizona, according to authorities. The cyclists were struck from behind as the truck crossed into the bicycle lane.
Barson is charged with five counts of DUI resulting in death (2-20 years in prison, per count) and five counts of Reckless Driving resulting in death (1-6 years in prison, per count). Other charges include one count of DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm (2-20 years in prison), and one count of Reckless Driving resulting in substantial bodily harm (1-6 years in prison).
The crash happened Thursday on U.S. 95 south between Boulder City and Searchlight, about 60 miles outside of Las Vegas.
The speed limit on that section of the highway is 75 mph.
We have learned that Barson lives in Arizona and works as a truck driver who shuttles items from the Las Vegas valley to Arizona.
Prosecutors tell the I-Team troopers obtained a blood sample from Barson after the crash. It took a few days to get the results back — and they found a “significant” amount of meth in his system.
Speaking to reporters after the crash, investigators said impairment was not a factor.
The five people who were killed were part of a larger group of around 20 bicyclists taking part in a 130-mile ride from Las Vegas to Nipton and back.
The Clark County office of the medical examiner and coroner said the cyclists were all from Las Vegas and included 39 year-old Erin Michelle Ray, 57-year-old Michael Todd Murray, 48-year-old Aksoy Ahmet, 57-year-old Thomas Chamberlin Trauger, and 41-year-old Gerrard Suarez Nieva.
The cause of death for each was listed as blunt force injuries and ruled accidental.
“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,” Wolfson said.
Barson is currently in custody and awaiting extradition from Mohave County, Arizona.
The I-Team found a person with the same name and age — Jordan Alexander Barson — was charged in Arizona in 1995 on a theft charge.
“You put two and two together that you have methampethamine in his system and that he fell asleep at the wheel, those two factors are extremely dangerous,” Wolfson said.