Lance Armstrong to ‘finish the ride’ in support of 5 cyclists killed in Michigan

Overall leader Lance Armstrong, of Austin, Texas, smiles as he pedals during the 17th stage of the Tour de France cycling race between Pau and Revel, southwestern France, Wednesday, July 20, 2005. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Well-known cyclist Lance Armstrong will be in Kalamazoo Tuesday for a “Finishing the Ride” event in honor of the five cyclists killed when they were hit by a pickup truck.

The June 7 crash in Cooper Township, north of Kalamazoo, killed Debbie Bradley, Melissa Fevig-Hughes, Tony Nelson, Larry Paulik and Suzanne Sippel and left four other cyclists in their group in the hospital. The driver of the pickup, Charles Pickett of Battle Creek, faces five counts of murder in the case and is being held without bond.

Tuesday, Armstrong and members of the Kalamazoo-area cycling community will ride 28.5 miles from Kalamazoo to Plainwell and back to honor the victims, according to Steve Johnson of the Kalamazoo Chain Gang cycling group. It’s the same route the cyclists were on at the time of the crash.

“Let’s use Tuesday’s event to bring the cycling community of Kalamazoo closer together,” Johnson wrote in a note announcing the event. “Let’s use Tuesday’s event to be courageous in the face of fear. Let’s use Tuesday’s event as a step towards healing.”

The event will start at 6:30 p.m. at Kalamazoo County Health Services on Gull Road. Participants are asked to carpool to the starting point if possible.

In a Facebook post Monday, Armstrong said he ‘knows the fear’ of “bike vs motorist.” He invited everyone who wishes to participate to come along.

The four survivors of the crash are still in the hospital. Saturday, Paul Runnels was in fair condition and Sheila Jeske in good condition at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo. At Borgess Medical Center Friday, Paul Gobble remained in serious condition and Jennifer Johnson was in fair condition.

More than 500 cyclists participated in a Ride of Silence in honor of the victims the day after the crash. 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.

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