Posted on: December 16, 2020, 03:41h.
Last updated on: December 16, 2020, 05:10h.
For the past 15 years, a group of around 20 cyclists have gathered in Las Vegas to tackle the Nipton Loop. But the 2020 event ended in tragedy, as five riders are dead and three others injured after a box truck plowed into them along US Route 95.
Nipton Loop organizer Matthew Anderson, who says his fellow riders know him as “Chikken,” explains that the group stays at the M Resort Spa Casino south of the Las Vegas Strip in Henderson. The Loop is a nearly 130-mile trek that takes riders from Las Vegas southeast to Boulder City, south to Searchlight, west to Nipton, and then north back to Las Vegas along I-15.
The voyage started last Thursday morning, December 10, but the riders made it less than 20 miles from the M casino before tragedy struck. Police say 45-year-old Jordan Alexander Barson crashed into the group riding on the shoulder of the highway around 9:45 am.
Five riders were pronounced dead on the scene, and three others injured, one critically. Police charged Barson today with five counts of DUI resulting in death, one count of DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm, and six counts of reckless driving.
Prosecutors say methamphetamine and/or amphetamine was found in Barson’s blood. Charging documents did not reveal the extent to which the drugs were in his system. But Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said it was “an extremely high level.”
Police video of his sobriety test show Barson struggling to walk nine steps in a straight line, repeatedly bracing himself by holding onto the box truck.
Biking Around Town
Barson told police that he makes a daily trip between his home in Kingman, Arizona, and Las Vegas, driving a box truck delivering goods for an unknown business. It’s unclear as to when the drugs found in his blood got into his system. He told police on the scene of the crash that he does not take any prescription medications.
Las Vegas, often referred to as Sin City, is a place of excess where many come to let loose, overindulge, and act in ways they otherwise would not. And when it comes to risk-taking, highway statistics show riding a bike in town is a bad bet.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), two of the most dangerous intersections in Nevada for vehicular accidents involving pedestrians and/or cyclists are on the Las Vegas Strip.
The IIHS has identified Las Vegas Blvd. at Caesars Palace Drive and the Strip at W. Flamingo Rd. as Las Vegas’ two most dangerous intersections. Per the US Department of Transportation, Las Vegas has the third-highest bicyclist fatality rate in the entire country at 6.4 per one million people.
Meth Use Among Truck Drivers
The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says marijuana was responsible for half of all failed commercial driver drug tests between January 1 and June 1 of this year. Cocaine is a distant second at 15 percent, and methamphetamine third at 10 percent.
Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system,” the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains. Classified by the US Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule II stimulant, methamphetamine is medically available to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Methamphetamine, however, is commonly illegally misused by smoking, snorting, injecting, or orally ingesting the narcotic.