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No bail for driver charged in bicyclists’ deaths

A box truck driver accused of killing five Las Vegas bicyclists was ordered held without bail on Monday.

Authorities have said Jordan Barson, 45, was high on methamphetamine when he plowed into a group of bicyclists in Clark County on Dec. 10, killing five of them.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Suzan Baucum called the Arizona man a “flight risk” and “danger to the community.”

Barson had nine times the amount of methamphetamine in his system needed to be legally considered impaired at the time of the Dec. 10 crash on U.S. Highway 95, near Searchlight, according to police and court reports.

He faces five counts of DUI resulting in death, two counts of DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm and seven counts of reckless driving, court records show. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for 8 a.m. Jan. 21.

Killed in the crash were Las Vegas bicyclists Erin Michelle Ray, 39; Gerrard Suarez Nieva, 41; Michael Todd Murray, 57; Aksoy Ahmet, 48; and Tom Trauger, 57. Four others were injured, most seriously Jerome Ducrocq, who remained hospitalized in critical condition last week.

Deputy Public Defender Shane Zeller had asked the judge to set Barson’s bail at $20,000. The judge pointed out that Barson could face a maximum prison sentence of more than 100 years.

“I don’t think there’s any amount of money that can satisfy the safety of the community after the horrendous decision that we see that he made,” Baucum said.

The bicyclists were with a group of about 20 who set out from Henderson that morning 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.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said last week that Barson was been deemed “an imminent hazard to public safety” by the agency. A statement from the agency said that Barson had been served with a federal order on Dec. 23 barring him from operating any commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.

Barson holds a commercial driver’s license and was employed by RoadRunner Transport AZ Inc., of Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

The agency said it appears Barson and the transport company were not following federal regulations for transportation using commercial motor vehicles at the time of the crash.

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

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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