NTSB says consolidating dispatch could prevent tragedy

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The National Transportation Safety Board released the findings of its investigation into the Kalamazoo biking tragedy, revealing concerns about communication between local law enforcement agencies.

Five people were killed and four others hurt on June 7, 2016, when police say Charles Pickett Jr. crashed into a cycling group on N. Westnedge Avenue in Kalamazoo County.

The NTSB report shows 22 minutes went by from the first erratic driving call to the deadly crash. In that time, investigators say Pickett had driving 14 miles. NTSB investigators suggest consolidating dispatch could fix some safety concerns, saying, "Had they shared information more effectively, police officers from adjoining jurisdictions might have had sufficient time to intercept the driver before the collision of the cyclists."

The recommendation comes just weeks before a scheduled vote on a proposal to consolidate dispatch in Kalamazoo County. It would charge phone users a little over $2.00 per month and use that money to fund a center that puts all dispatchers in on room, working as one entity.

Leaders from the Kalamazoo Township Police Department, Kalamazoo Township Police Department and Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department plan to meet to discuss the NTSB report. Meanwhile, one of the crash survivors is speaking out in support of first responders.

Paul Gobble released the following statement today to NEWSCHANNEL 3:

"I could not be more impressed or comforted by the performance and commitment from all of the first responders who responded to the crisis on June 7th. The police, the firefighters, the EMTs, all of them were amazing. Could things have gone better? Theoretically, that's always possible. Do I think there should be a change to our 911 system? I think the best people to answer that question are our first responders. They would know best what tools they need to do their job."

Charles Pickett Jr.'s trial is scheduled to begin in mid-September.

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