50°F
weather icon Clear

Driver in crash extradited; had meth in system

Jordan Barson, the truck driver accused of DUI in a crash that killed five bicyclists, was arrested Dec. 16 in Kingman, Arizona, and has been extradited to Clark County, according to court and jail records.

He was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on Wednesday, Dec. 23, exactly a week after he was arrested.

The Nevada Highway Patrol’s arrest warrant stated that Barson had more than nine times the amount of methamphetamine in his system needed to be legally considered impaired.

Barson, 45, had 948.7 nanograms of methamphetamine per milliliter of blood in his system, according to an arrest warrant. The limit at which a driver would be considered impaired by the illegal drug is 100 nanograms per milliliter.

“If someone has 100 nanograms of methamphetamine in their blood at the time of driving, that would mean that they are ‘per se,’ in other words legally conclusively, driving under the influence,” said Shannon Bryant, the Nevada Traffic Safety Resource prosecutor and a drug recognition expert instructor.

“So we would not see someone having 100 nanograms in their bloodstream, typically, unless there was fairly recent use,” Bryant said Friday.

Clark County prosecutors charged him with five counts of DUI resulting in death, six counts of reckless driving resulting in death or substantial bodily harm, and one count of DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm, court records show.

He is suspected of driving impaired in the crash that killed bicyclists Erin Michelle Ray, 39; Gerrard Suarez Nieva, 41; Michael Todd Murray, 57; Aksoy Ahmet, 48; and Tom Trauger, 57. Four others were injured in the crash — which happened Dec. 10 on U.S. Highway 95 near Searchlight — most seriously Jerome Ducrocq, who was hospitalized in critical condition last week.

The bicyclists were with a group of about 20 who set out from Henderson to complete the roughly 130-mile Nipton Loop. All of the bicyclists who were killed or injured were seeking cover from the wind and riding behind the group’s safety escort vehicle when the box truck Barson was driving crashed into them, according to a Nevada Highway Patrol report.

Field sobriety tests

Body-camera footage released by the Department of Public Safety on Dec. 16 shows a Highway Patrol trooper giving Barson three field sobriety tests: following the trooper’s finger with his eyes, walking and turning in a straight line and standing on one foot.

Barson was unsteady and stumbled during the walking and balancing portions, the footage shows. Troopers on the scene attributed it to his emotional state, as Barson was frequently seen crying and distraught while talking with investigators.

“Trooper Holman stated that he had to stop both tests due to the emotional state of Mr. Barson and interference from the Mercy Air helicopter,” the arrest warrant said.

Bryant said all law enforcement officials in Nevada are trained to conduct three basic field sobriety tests to detect any impairment. But an officer certified as a drug recognition expert — of which there are only about 100 in the state — will conduct further tests, such as studying a person’s pulse rate, blood pressure or pupil measurements.

According to the warrant, Barson showed no clues in the trooper’s eye test but showed half of the clues indicating impairment in both the walk and turn and the balancing test.

Investigators meet with Barson

Additional body-worn camera footage released by the department Dec. 16 shows two investigators speaking with Barson in his Arizona home the evening of Dec. 14.

The 45-year-old was with three others, including a girl identified in the video as his 16-year-old daughter. He was alone and sitting on his couch while speaking with investigators.

In the beginning of the conversation, Barson repeated what he said to investigators at the scene — that he didn’t remember the crash and believed he fell asleep behind the wheel.

When investigators broke the news to Barson that the blood test results showed methamphetamine in his system, Barson immediately admitted to being a recovering methamphetamine user who relapsed a few months ago. The investigators urged him to seek help if he was struggling with an addiction, and one trooper asked him why he relapsed.

“It’s a question that I ask myself all the time, because I have everything I want right here,” Barson said during the emotional conversation.

At other points in the conversation, Barson said through tears that he was afraid he was “going to prison forever” and that he felt guilty when thinking about the victims and their families.

“I feel so bad for them,” he said. “Like why did I survive that?”

Barson said he used methamphetamine the afternoon before the crash and then didn’t sleep well, waking up at 4:30 a.m. Dec. 10 to drive to Las Vegas for his job delivering packages.

Although Bryant did not comment directly on Barson’s case, he said that when someone is on the “downside” of a methamphetamine high, they can become sleepy and “less aware” of their surroundings. Someone on the downside will still test positive for the drug in a blood test, he said.

According to Arizona court records, in 1995 Barson was found guilty of theft charges and faced a drug charge, which was dismissed.

Boulder City Review Editor Hali Bernstein Saylor contributed to this article.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Salary range, guidelines set for new city attorney, manager

The search for the next city manager and city attorney is a little more defined as City Council recently approved the salary range and compensation package for each position.

Purpose of proposed ballot question contested

City Council is divided on whether safety or growth is the purpose of a proposed ballot question about airport capital improvement projects and have yet to decide about moving forward with it.

Three announce plans to seek council seat

Candidate filing for Boulder City’s 2021 municipal election starts in less than two weeks and three residents have already announced their intention to run for city office.

Temporary staff check for COVID compliance

Boulder City is using temporary part-time code enforcement officers to help ensure that local businesses are complying with current health and safety guidelines for the pandemic.

Two council seats up for election

The 2021 municipal election will see residents voting to fill two seats on City Council as well as offer guidance on some community issues.

Old pet cemetery to remain intact

A new solar project will not infringe on the local pet cemetery put in place years ago by a longtime Boulder City resident.

Nevada’s road fatalities rose in 2020

Now that 2020 has come to a close, transportation officials hope the Las Vegas Valley can leave the “worst year ever” in its rear-view mirror.

Police raise awareness of 3-foot bicycle law to motorists

Local law enforcement agencies joined to raise awareness of Nevada’s “3-foot rule” for motorists during an enforcement event Dec. 30 on a trio of Summerlin roads.