LAS VEGAS – A Arizona truck driver who plowed into cyclists on a stretch of the Nevada freeway last December and killed five and injured four was sentenced on Wednesday to at least 16 years in Nevada state jail for driving under the influence of methamphetamine and caused death.
Jordan Alexander Barson, 45, of Kingman, Arizona, apologized Tuesday for the first day in an emotional two-day hearing in Las Vegas and asked for forgiveness as he spoke via video from the Clark County Detention Center, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. His lawyer, Damian Sheets, said Barson did not intend to cause harm.
“Knowing that I caused the deaths of five people and seriously injured two others is unbearable most of the time,”
Clark County District Court Judge Bita Yeager on Wednesday acknowledged Barson’s remorse, but stuck to the agreed verdict when he pleaded guilty in April to two counts of driving under the influence that resulted in death.
“You had no business driving,” Yeager told him.
The judge almost held back tears, counting the names of the five cyclists and quoting the effects of their deaths on “mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses, children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren.”
“Their lives are affected forever because of your bad choice,” she said.
Killed were Las Vegas residents Erin Michelle Ray, 39, Gerrard Suarez Nieva, 41, Michael Todd Murray, 57, Aksoy Ahmet, 48, and Thomas Chamberlin Trauger, 57.
Cyclists Jose Vasquez and Jerome Ducrocq were seriously injured.
The judge also ordered Barson to pay nearly $ 60,000 in compensation to the victims.
Barnson’s plea agreement avoided prosecution against 14 charges of crime that could have kept him behind bars for the rest of his life if convicted.
Prosecutors said blood tests showed he had nine times the amount of methamphetamine in his system that would indicate deterioration.
Barson, a commercial truck driver, cried after the December 10 crash on US 95 between Boulder City and Searchlight.
He told investigators he fell asleep at the wheel while driving his regular work route between Las Vegas, the Colorado River city of Bullhead City, Arizona and Kingman.
The flatbed truck plowed into cyclists driving after a Subaru Outback support vehicle that protected them from headwinds as a group of about 20 cyclists made an annual 130-mile ride from Las Vegas through the scenic Nevada desert and California.