The driver of an Isuzu NPR-HD was impaired and tired, sparking a Dec. 10, 2020 collision in which five cyclists died and another injured, according to a report released Monday by the National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB). The report found that the probable cause of the Searchlight, Nevada, crash was the box truck driver’s impairment and fatigue stemming from use of methamphetamine.
The truck driver, Jordan Barson, was arrested and charged following the wreck with six counts of felony DUI and six counts of reckless driving and sentenced last year to at least 16 years in Nevada state prison.
A group of around 20 cyclists was participating in an organized ride along an approximately 130-mile loop, known among local bicyclists as the “Nipton Loop.” Contributing to the crash was the decision made by the bicyclists to ride in the right travel lane of a 75-mph roadway, according to the report.
Post-crash, the truck driver failed two tests administered by the Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) to assess potential impairment, and toxicological testing of a blood sample provided by the truck driver after the crash indicated the presence of methamphetamine and amphetamine at dosages consistent with drug abuse and inconsistent with therapeutic dosage. When interviewed by NHP troopers four days after the crash, the truck driver admitted to smoking methamphetamine after work the day before the crash. He stated that he had been through drug rehabilitation in the past but relapsed 2 months prior to the crash and had been using methamphetamine off and on during that time.
Although the vehicle the truck driver was operating at the time of the crash did not require a CDL and therefore did not necessitate U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) drug testing, RoadRunner Transport AZ required a DOT preemployment alcohol and drug test on Dec. 3, 2019, which was negative for alcohol and other tested-for drugs. In addition, investigators identified that the truck driver underwent a CDL medical exam in September 2020 as part of the Medical Review Program for CDL drivers licensed in the state of Arizona. The medical exam did not reveal any issues.
A subsequent investigation of RoadRunner Transport AZ found that neither the carrier nor Barson maintained drivers’ records-of-duty status as required by federal regulations.