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Flagstaff police say sun in driver’s eyes may be factor in fatal bike collision

Normand Cloutier (Flagstaff Police Department photo)

PHOENIX – Authorities said Wednesday that a tow truck driver could have had the sun in his eyes when he plowed into a group of bicycle riders, killing one, in Flagstaff last month, although the cause of the incident remains under investigation.

Normand Cloutier, 58, of California allegedly drove through a red light and struck six riders as they crossed Beaver Street with a green light at Butler Avenue on May 28, according to the Flagstaff Police Department.

Joanna Wheaton, 29, was killed, four other riders were hospitalized and one refused treatment.

Cloutier was charged with causing a death by a moving violation. His blood has been sent to an Arizona Department of Public Safety crime lab to be examined, police said in an update released Wednesday.

Cloutier was towing a moving truck westbound around 7 p.m. when the incident occurred, and there was no indication he was speeding at the time, police said.

Investigators went to the scene to see if the sun could have been in Cloutier’s eyes as he approached the intersection, and they verified it was a possibility, police said.

Police have also hired an outside agency to inspect the tow truck for signs of mechanical failure and determine if Cloutier attempted to use his brakes.

No other details were released.

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