Truck driver sentenced to 16 years for crash that killed five bikers

Truck driver, 45, is sentenced to 16 years in prison for crash that killed five bicyclists after he fell asleep at the wheel while high on meth

  • Jordan Alexander Barson, 45, was sentenced to 16 years in prison on Wednesday
  • Barson plowed into a group of bicyclists on a Nevada highway with his box truck on December 10, killing five and injuring four
  • He claimed he fell asleep at the wheel but was later revealed to have nine times the amount of methamphetamine in his system that would indicate impairment
  • During his sentencing hearing in Las Vegas, Barson apologized and asked for forgiveness 
  • ‘Knowing I caused the deaths of five people and severely hurt two others is unbearable most of the time,’ he told the court

By Associated Press

Published: 01:31, 10 June 2021 | Updated: 18:42, 10 June 2021

Jordan Alexander Barson, 45, was sentenced to 16 years in prison on Wednesday for his fatal DUI crash in December 

An Arizona box truck driver who plowed into bicyclists on a stretch of Nevada highway last December, killing five and injuring four, was sentenced Wednesday to a minimum of 16 years in Nevada state prison for driving under the influence of methamphetamine causing death.

Jordan Alexander Barson, 45, of Kingman, Arizona, apologized Tuesday, during the first day of an emotional two-day sentencing hearing in Las Vegas, asking forgiveness as he spoke by video from the Clark County Detention Center.

His attorney, Damian Sheets, said Barson did not intend to cause harm.

‘Knowing I caused the deaths of five people and severely hurt two others is unbearable most of the time,’ Barson told the court. 

‘I want you to know that I’m so truly sorry for what I’ve done.

I know you will carry this pain forever, and it breaks my heart that I caused this.’

Clark County District Court Judge Bita Yeager on Wednesday acknowledged Barson’s remorse but stuck with the sentence agreed upon when he pleaded guilty in April to two counts of driving under the influence resulting in death.

‘You had no business driving,’ Yeager told him.

The judge paused, near tears, spoke the names of the five bicyclists and cited the effect of their deaths had on ‘mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses, children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren.’

Truck driver sentenced to 16 years for crash that killed five bikers

Nevada Highway Patrol investigate the scene where Barson crashed into a group of bycyclists, killing five, on US Highway 95 near Searchlight, Nevada on December 10, 2020

Truck driver sentenced to 16 years for crash that killed five bikers

Barson’s flat-faced 2019 Isuzu NPR HD box truck is seen severely damaged after it plowed into at least seven bicyclists trailing a 2019 Subaru Outback support vehicle

Truck driver sentenced to 16 years for crash that killed five bikers

On the day of his arrest, the Nevada Department of Public Safety released body camera video showing troopers interviewing a visibly shaken and emotional Barson – who claimed he fell asleep at the wheel 

‘Their lives are forever affected because of your poor 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.

Bicyclists Jose Vasquez and Jerome Ducrocq were seriously injured.

The judge also ordered Barson to pay nearly £60,000 in restitution to victims.

Barson’s plea deal avoided trial on 14 felony charges that could have kept him behind bars for the rest of his life if he was convicted.

Prosecutors said blood tests showed he had nine times the amount of methamphetamine in his system that would indicate impairment.

Barson, a commercial truck driver, wept 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 town of Bullhead City, Arizona, and Kingman.

The flat-faced truck plowed into bicyclists trailing a Subaru Outback support vehicle shielding them from headwind as a group of about 20 cyclists made an annual 130-mile ride from Las Vegas through scenic desert in Nevada and California.

Truck driver sentenced to 16 years for crash that killed five bikers Truck driver sentenced to 16 years for crash that killed five bikers

Thomas Chamberlin Trauger, 57 (pictured left), CFO at the Sports Basement recreational gear chain in the Bay Area, and Erin Michelle Ray, 39, a real estate agent (right), were among the five deceased cyclists 

Truck driver sentenced to 16 years for crash that killed five bikers Truck driver sentenced to 16 years for crash that killed five bikers

Aksoy Ahmet, 48, a stay-at-home father of three (left), and Gerrard Suarez Nieva, 41, a medical care technician (right) lost their lives in the crash 

Truck driver sentenced to 16 years for crash that killed five bikers

Michael Todd Murray, 57, a former motorcycle racer, was struck and killed by the truck 

Truck driver sentenced to 16 years for crash that killed five bikers

A mangled bike is seen resting at the scene of the collision on US 95  

On the day of his arrest, the Nevada Department of Public Safety released body camera video showing troopers interviewing a visibly shaken and emotional Barson. 

‘I guess I fell asleep because I don’t remember…

I just remember hitting those people,’ he says through tears. 

A trooper asks Barson a series of questions about his job as a courier driving between Las Vegas, Bullhead City, Arizona, and Kingman, and the condition of his truck, before inquiring whether he had been drinking or taking any prescription drugs.

‘No,’ Barson says in response to all the questions. 

The driver was later subjected to field sobriety tests, which he did not pass, and was asked to voluntarily go to the hospital to have his blood drawn for testing. 

‘If I say no, where do I go?’ a downcast Barson asks the trooper, who explains to him that he would be forced to obtain a telephonic search warrant for the blood work, which would result in his driver’s license being automatically suspended for a year.  

During another interview with investigators, Barson reportedly said he had used the drug on the afternoon before the crash and did not sleep well that night, according to Las Vegas Review-Journal. 

‘I’m afraid I’m going to prison forever,’ he was quoted as saying through tears. ‘I feel so bad for [the victims], like why did I survive that?’

Truck driver sentenced to 16 years for crash that killed five bikers

Barson broke down in tears as he spoke to troopers after the fatal crash