One year ago today, nine bicyclists headed out for a 28-mile ride in Kalamazoo County. They were part of the Chain Gang – a group that has been organizing weekly rides since 1999.
That evening, the riders were on a rural road in Cooper Township when a pickup truck slammed into them.
Five of the cyclists died. Melissa Fevig-Hughes, Tony Nelson and Larry Paulik lived in Kalamazoo. Debra Bradley and Suzanne Sippel were from Augusta.
The four other riders suffered serious injuries. The survivors are Jennifer Johnson of Kalamazoo and Sheila Jeske, Paul Runnels, and Paul Gobble, who live in Richland.
The driver of the pickup truck, Charles Pickett, Jr., is awaiting trial on charges, including of five counts of second-degree murder and operating while intoxicated causing death.
As part of our series on bike safety in Michigan, “Sharing the Road,” we asked Chain Gang member Paul Gobble to tell the story of that day and how it has affected his life in the year since.
Listen to Paul Gobble, in his own words.
Michigan Radio's Morning Edition producer Lauren Talley contributed to this story with additional help from Lindsey Smith and Sarah Hulett.