(Reuters) - A 50-year-old man was charged with murder on Thursday in connection with a fatal car crash in Michigan that left five cyclists dead and four more injured, prosecutors said.
Charles Edward Pickett Jr. was charged with four counts of second-degree murder and four counts of reckless driving causing serious impairment after crashing his pickup truck into the cycling group, Kalamazoo County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Getting said in a statement.
The criminal complaint said Pickett faces life in prison on each murder charge. It was not immediately clear if Pickett had retained an attorney.
Getting said the cyclists were struck around 6:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday along the shoulder of a road in Cooper Township, some 45 miles south of Grand Rapids.
Five bike riders were pronounced dead at the scene while four others were taken to the hospital. Several local law enforcement agencies received calls about how the vehicle was being driven about 30 minutes before the collision, according to Getting.
Getting said the driver was taken into custody after he was found a short distance away from the collision. Police said he fled the scene on foot.
"The investigation is not over and the police will continue to gather information on what lead up to this crash," Getting said in the statement.
Local news website MLive reported that the cycling group dubbed themselves "The Chain Gang" and those killed were aged between 42 and 74-years-old.
The criminal complaint named the five deceased victims as Fred Nelson, Suzanne Sipple, Debra Bradley, Lorenz Paulik and Melissa Fevig-Hughes. The four injured adults were Jennifer Johnson, Paul Gobble, Paul Runnels and Sheila Jeske.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by David Gregorio)