Driver charged in Phoenix motorcycle tragedy

Tragic Crash

The sanitation truck driver who ran into the back of a group of motorcyclists stopped at a stoplight in Phoenix on March 25 — killing four of them and injuring five others — has been arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the crash, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

Police arrested truck driver Michael Jakscht, 46, on April 6 and booked him on four counts of manslaughter, five counts of aggravated assault and seven counts of endangerment.

Initial toxicology tests on blood drawn from Jakscht on the day of the crash show he had the illegal drug methamphetamine in his system, according to police. He could face an additional charge of impaired driving, police said.

Motorcyclists who died as a result of the crash were Daniel Butler, 35; Clyde Nachand, 67; Stephen Punch, 52; and Dale Downs-Totonchi, 47. Another motorcyclist, Phoenix Fire Capt. Ernie Lizarraga, 52, remains hospitalized suffering from injuries sustained in the crash.

"We commend the Phoenix Police Department for its diligence in pursuing this case, and for getting the initial toxicology results as quickly as possible," said Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations. "We understand that toxicology results normally take about six weeks to process, and the police were able to get initial results in this case in just two weeks.

"We again express our condolences on behalf of the AMA and its members to the families of those killed, and hope for a full recovery for those injured," Moreland said. "We will continue to watch this case closely."