On 5-year anniversary, survivors reflect on Kzoo Co. cycling tragedy

Kalamazoo County

COOPER TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Five years ago on Monday, one of the worst bicycle crashes to ever hit West Michigan unfolded on a road in Kalamazoo County.

On June 7, 2016, nine cyclists — members of the Chain Gang — were hit during their weekly ride in Cooper Township.

Debbie Bradley, Melissa Fevig-Hughes, Tony Nelson, Larry Paulik and Suzanne Sippel all died. Four others survived.  

Charles Pickett Jr. is now serving decades behind bars — an effective life sentence — after he was found guilty in the crash. He had painkillers, muscle relaxers and meth in his system.

The Chain Gang continues to ride every Tuesday. Jennifer Johnson, who survived the incident, says that first time back on the bike was the hardest, but she was determined not to let fear stop her from doing what she loves. Paul Runnels, another survivor, says he’s happy with the changes he has seen take place over the past five years that make it safer to ride.

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