Police: Arizona crash that killed 2 cyclists likely accident

Police: Arizona crash that killed 2 cyclists likely accident

The crash of a truck into a group of 20 bicyclists on a bridge that killed two and injured nearly all the rest of a Phoenix area cycling group appears to have been an accident, police said Monday.

Goodyear Police Chief Santiago Rodriguez said the cause of the Saturday morning crash is still being investigated. He said the truck hit a concrete barrier as the driver headed to his job.

Authorities say the driver was 26-year-old Pedro Quintana-Lujan.

“There is no indication that his was an intentional act or anything but an isolated incident,” Rodriguez said.

The department was still waiting for the results of a blood test acquired with a warrant that would show whether the driver was impaired.

One person remained hospitalized Monday in critical condition. The cyclists who died were identified as Karen Malisa, 61, of Goodyear, Arizona, and David Kero, 65, who was visiting from Michigan.

Quintana-Lujan was booked into Maricopa County Jail on Sunday on suspicion of two counts of manslaughter, three counts of aggravated assault, 18 counts of endangerment and two counts of causing serious injury or death by a moving violation.

He is scheduled to appear in Superior Court on March 3. His hometown wasn’t immediately available and it was unclear if Quintana-Lujan has a lawyer yet who can speak on his behalf.

Police said the driver was driving a pickup truck hauling a trailer when the vehicle crashed into a group of bicyclists about 8 a.m. Saturday on the Cotton Lane Bridge in Goodyear, which is located about 19 miles (30 kilometers) west of Phoenix.

Quintana-Lujan stayed at the scene of the crash and was cooperating with authorities in their investigation, police spokeswoman Lisa Berry said.

Authorities originally said 11 people were injured in addition to the two who died, but police said Monday that 19 of the 20 in the outing organized by West Valley Cycle were injured.

In Arizona, it is legal for bicycles to ride in traffic lanes and the state law requires drivers to give at least a three-foot (1 meter) distance between the cyclist and the car.

It was the latest in a string of deadly cycling accidents involving groups of riders in recent years in Arizona and neighboring Nevada.

An Arizona box truck driver plowed into a group of cyclists on a Nevada highway in December 2020, killing five people and injuring four. He was later sentenced to a minimum of 16 years in Nevada state prison for driving under the influence of methamphetamine causing death.

The cyclists were among about 20 making an annual 130-mile (209-kilometer) trek from Las Vegas through the Nevada and California desert.

In Show Low, Arizona, in June 2021, a driver in a pickup truck plowed into bicyclists participating in the community’s Bike the Bluff road race, critically injuring several riders before police chased the driver and shot him outside a nearby hardware store. One cyclist later died.

About 270 cyclists were participating in the race in the mountain town of Show Low, about a three-hour drive northeast of Phoenix. The truck driver, who was also critically injured, was later sentenced to 26 1/2 years imprisonment.

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