COOPER TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kalamazoo County woman and three Catholic parishioners are among the five cyclists hit and killed by a pickup truck in Kalamazoo County.
Around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, nine bicyclists were hit from behind near Markin Glen Park in the 5500 block of N. Westnedge Avenue in Cooper Township, north of Kalamazoo.
Kalamazoo County Prosecutor released a full list of the victims Wednesday afternoon. Among those killed:
- Debra Ann Bradley, 53, of Augusta
- Melissa Ann Fevig-Hughes, 42, of Augusta
- Fred “Tony” Nelson, 73, of Kalamazoo
- Larry John Paulik, 74, of Kalamazoo
- Suzanne Joan Sippel, 56, of Augusta
Sippel worked at Michigan State University’s W.K. Kellogg Biological Station in Hickory Corners, MSU officials confirm. The Diocese of Kalamazoo confirmed Wednesday that three of its parishioners were among those killed. Nelson and Paulik attended St. Thomas More Catholic Parish in Kalamazoo; Bradley was a member of St. Ann Catholic Church in Augusta.
“Our beloved community of Kalamazoo has once again suffered a devastating and shocking loss, and more than ever we are called to draw upon the strength and goodwill of everyone in this caring, vibrant community. Amidst this tragedy, we ask for God’s grace to help us remain strong and to be united in our prayers and support for all as we grieve with one another,” stated Rev. Paul J. Bradley with the Diocese of Kalamazoo.
Four other bicyclists seriously injured in the crash were taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital and Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo. Those victims include:
- Paul Douglas Gobble, 47, of Richland
- Sheila Diane Jeske, 53, of Richland
- Jennifer Lynn Johnson, 40, of Kalamazoo
- Paul Lewis Runnels, 65, of Richland
Three of the victims – Gobble, Jeske and Runnels – remained in serious condition Wednesday. Johnson was listed in fair condition, Getting said.
Police found the driver a short distance away from the pickup truck, which was disabled in the crash, Getting said.
Authorities are withholding the 50-year-old suspect’s name as the investigation continues.
REMEMBERING THE RIDERS
Cyclists and leaders from across West Michigan are showing their support for the victims and their families. Several flower bouquets rested at the scene of the crash Wednesday. Someone also placed a ghost bike at the scene.
“Our hearts are broken that five cyclists lost their lives and four others were seriously injured due to this preventable tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims during this difficult time. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of those impacted by this senseless act. Our thoughts are also with the injured cyclists. We wish them a quick and full recovery. There is no way to measure the grief we feel at the loss to the Michigan bicycling community,” said Renee Mitchell, president of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club in a statement Wednesday.
Complete Streets Coalition of Kalamazoo issued the following statement Wednesday:
“To those injured, we wish a complete recovery. This incident, while tragic, will inspire us to redouble our efforts to not only make our streets safe for all users but to change the paradigm that allows these situations to occur.”
“Our hearts are heavy and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims of last night’s tragedy,” Discover Kalamazoo said in a tweet Wednesday.
VIGILS FOR VICTIMS
A Ride of Silence organized through Facebook is slated to begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Arcadia Brewing Company, located at 701 E. Michigan Avenue in Kalamazoo.
>>MAP: Ride of Silence route
St. Thomas More Catholic Student Parish will hold a community prayer service 7 p.m. Thursday at its parish, located at 421 Monroe Street in Kalamazoo.
The Kalamazoo Strong Organization has set up a fund for the victims of the crash and their families. You can donate at the organization’s website.