Why a driver hasn’t been charged after plowing into group of bicyclists in Goodyear

It's been five months since a driver crashed into a group of bicyclists in Goodyear, killing two, and no charges have been filed, so an expert explains why.
Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 7:54 PM MST
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GOODYEAR, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — It’s been five months since a pickup truck driver plowed into a group of cyclists in Goodyear, killing two of them and injuring 17 others. They were all part of West Valley Cycle. They came together Wednesday morning for a memorial ride to honor Karen Malisa. It would have been her 62nd birthday. While the police investigation is complete, Arizona’s Family Investigates found the driver responsible still hasn’t been charged.

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said these cases take time. While Goodyear police submitted their findings to them months ago, prosecutors wanted more information and sent the case back. Mitchell said that work is now complete and they’re reviewing the case. All of it leaves those injured and the families of those killed watching and waiting.

Step by step, day by day. It’s how Clay Wells is trying to move forward after that horrific bike crash back in February. “I just underwent my sixth surgery three weeks ago, which was my final surgery,” Wells said. “My focus is on trying to get as back to normal as possible.”

Wells said he didn’t remember anything about the crash but his fellow cyclists and investigators have filled him in. “I was the first one hit and went under the truck and the truck actually ran over the left side of my body,” Wells said. “I was badly injured. I was bleeding internally and was actually in danger of bleeding out.”

Wells was one of 20 cyclists that Saturday morning. They were all part of the West Valley Cycle group. They were on the Cotton Lane Bridge south of MC 85 in Goodyear, considered the safest stretch of their route when a pickup truck driver hit them from behind. The driver, Pedro Quintana-Lujan, 26, reportedly told investigators his steering wheel locked.

“That’s a new one for me, in 33 years of doing accidents, of a steering wheel actually locking to one side and pulling a car that way,” Dave Wells, an accident reconstruction expert, said. Dave Wells, no relation to Clay Wells, spent decades in law enforcement, with the majority of it investigating crashes. He explained that authorities break accidents into components. They need to look at every angle, and consider every element to determine what happened.

Arizona’s Family Investigates asked Dave Wells if this timeframe seems especially long. “Something like this, I would say no,” Dave Wells said.

As the County Attorney’s Office reviews the case, Quintana-Lujan remains a free man. For friends of those killed and injured, it’s concerning. “We can’t really get any information about why it’s taking long, what’s the delay in the process, when will the decision be forthcoming?” David Herzog asked. He started West Valley Cycle 21 years ago. The group has 2,600 members. “Let’s help put this piece away in the families that lost their loved ones and those that are injured,” Herzog said.

“Is it frustrating? Yes, but it’s also a reality that needs to be addressed,” Clay Wells said. He remains optimistic charges are coming. “I struggle. I don’t have closure yet,” he said.

The NTSB is also investigating the crash. Dave Wells said it’s common for them to get involved when a crash on this scale happens. Their focus is different. They’re looking at the road itself and trying to determine what could be done to prevent a crash like this moving forward.

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