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An Arizona driver was charged after plowing into cyclists, killing 2 and injuring 17

This Sunday booking photo provided by the Goodyear Police Department shows suspect Pedro Quintana-Lujan, 26. He was arrested in connection with a crash that killed two bicyclists and injured 11 others in Goodyear, a Phoenix suburb, authorities said Sunday.
Goodyear Police Department via AP
This Sunday booking photo provided by the Goodyear Police Department shows suspect Pedro Quintana-Lujan, 26. He was arrested in connection with a crash that killed two bicyclists and injured 11 others in Goodyear, a Phoenix suburb, authorities said Sunday.

Updated February 27, 2023 at 6:45 PM ET

Authorities in a suburb of Phoenix have arrested a driver who crashed into a group of bicyclists over the weekend, killing two people and leaving 17 others injured.

Police in Goodyear, Ariz., took 26-year-old Pedro Quintana-Lujan of Phoenix into custody following the Saturday crash. Quintana-Lujan has been charged with two counts of manslaughter, three counts of aggravated assault, 18 counts of endangerment and two counts of causing serious injury or death by a moving violation, police said.

Goodyear mayor Joe Pizzillo said the community of about 100,000 residents about five miles west of Phoenix is grieving in the aftermath of the "horrific" crash.

"We have a tight-knit cycling community, so this has deeply affected many across the West Valley," Pizzillo said during a Monday afternoon news conference. "But a tragedy like this affects the entire community of Goodyear."

According to Goodyear Police Chief Santiago Rodriguez, Quintana-Lujan was driving his white Ford F-250 pickup truck over the Cotton Lane Bridge early Saturday morning when he hit a barrier wall and then crashed into the group of 20 cyclists.

Police were called to the scene just before 8 a.m. local time, where they found 19 injured cyclists, two of whom died. Sixty-one-year-old Karen Malisa died on the scene, and 65-year-old David Kero died on the way to the hospital, authorities said.

Malisa was a Goodyear resident, and Kero was visiting the area from Michigan.

One victim remained in the hospital in critical condition as of Monday afternoon, police said.

Rodriguez said there was no indication the crash was intentional but that the investigation was ongoing. The results of a blood sample police obtained from Quintana-Lujan, in regards to possible intoxication, were still pending.

It's unclear whether Quintana-Lujan has retained an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Lisa Berry, a spokesperson for the Goodyear Police Department, said Quintana-Lujan indicated to investigators that he was driving to a work site.

The cyclists were on a regular Saturday group ride

The group of cyclists was out for a regular ride organized by the local organization West Valley Cycle on a set route they follow on Saturdays, founder David Herzog told NPR. There were three groups on the ride, but it was the B group that was struck.

"No one really saw the truck because he pretty much hit the back of the group and came all the way through the group," Herzog told NPR.

Among the West Valley Cycle members, "everyone is suffering immensely," he said.

Herzog wasn't part of Saturday's ride, but he heard accounts of the crash from his wife and others who were there.

Herzog said Malisa, who was good friends with him and his wife, was a middle school math teacher who had a "great heart" and helped anyone in need. Kero was visiting from out of state and was new to the group, Herzog said.

A GoFundMe page set up by Herzog is now raising funds for the families of those who died as well as the riders who were injured and undergoing numerous surgeries.

Herzog said he was grateful for the outpouring of support but that it would be a long road to recovery for the close-knit group that has spent untold hours riding side-by-side. "I don't know how we're going to really recover from this."

The number of cyclists killed by drivers has been on the rise in recent years. The National Safety Council reportedthat 1,260 cyclists were killed in 2020, an increase of 16% over the previous year. Cycling deaths have also risen some 44% over the past decade.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: February 26, 2023 at 11:00 PM CST
A summary of this story that appeared on Twitter and possibly NPR's homepage mistakenly said Pedro Quintana-Lujan faced charges after driving into a group of bicyclists on Sunday. In fact, the day was Saturday.
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Ayana Archie
Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.