A truck driver who has been charged with fatally hitting five people with his truck while on methamphetamine has been declared an imminent hazard by the federal government.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Dec. 23 ordered Arizona-licensed commercial driver Jordan A. Barson not to operate any commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.
On Dec. 10, Barson, a commercial driver’s license holder employed by RoadRunner Transport AZ Inc., USDOT No. 3451500, of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, was operating a 2019 Isuzu NPR HD box truck on U.S. 95 in Clark County, Nevada, when he struck seven bicyclists and the riders’ escort vehicle from the rear. Five bicyclists were pronounced dead at scene. Another bicyclist and the driver of the escort vehicle received incapacitating injuries and were transported to the hospital.
According to media reports, the 45-year-old truck driver told investigators he didn’t remember hitting the cyclists and that he must have fallen asleep and veered into the bike lane.
Barson was tested for controlled substances and was found positive for amphetamine, and had nearly 10 times the legal amount of methamphetamine in his system.
The FMCSA found that neither RoadRunner Transport AZ nor Barson maintained drivers’ records-of-duty status of driver hours of service as required by federal regulations.
Public DOT records as of Dec. 27 indicate the carrier, which has three power units and three drivers, does not have active for-hire authority. In two vehicle inspections, both times the vehicle was put out of service, and in one the driver was put out of service.
Barson has been charged with five counts of driving under the influence resulting in death, six counts of reckless driving resulting in death or substantial bodily harm, and one count of DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm. The felony counts could mean decades of prison time, if convicted. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 30.
The bicyclists were with a group of about 20; those 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.
According to published reports, Barson said he was driving his regular work route between Las Vegas, the Colorado River town of Bullhead City, Arizona, and Kingman, Arizona.
FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order states that Barson’s “blatant violations of the [federal safety regulations] and ongoing and repeated disregard for the safety of the motoring public … substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death to you and motoring public.”
Barson and RoadRunner Transport AZ Inc. also may be subject to a civil penalty enforcement proceedings brought by FMCSA for violations of the agency’s safety regulations.