A rural New Hampshire highway was the scene of a fiery collision between a pickup truck and a group of 10 motorcyclists last Friday that left 7 dead. The driver of the truck has now been arrested and charged with seven counts of negligent homicide. According to the New Hampshire attorney general’s office, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, was arrested Monday morning at his home in West Springfield, Massachusetts.
Zhukovskyy was questioned at the scene of Friday’s crash and allowed to return to Massachusetts, the National Transportation Safety Board said.
Following a brief court appearance on Monday, Zhukovskyy was handed over to New Hampshire authorities in Springfield Massachusetts. The 23-year-olds, hands were cuffed behind his back as he was led into the courtroom, his head down and his eyes fixed upon his own feet.
Records show that Zhukovskyy was stopped on suspicion of drunken driving last month and in 2013 as well. Connecticut prosecutors say he was arrested on May 11 in an East Windsor Walmart parking lot after failing a sobriety test, Officers had responded to a complaint about a man who was revving the motor of his truck and jumping up and down outside the vehicle.
According to state motor vehicle records, Zhukovskyy was arrested in 2013 on a drunken driving charge in Westfield, Massachusetts. He received probation for one year and his license was suspended for 210 days, the Westville News reported.
A man that identified himself as only a brother-in-law said that the family is in shock and feeling the same pains everyone else but could not say whether the driver was right or wrong on Monday. The brother-in-law went on to say that Zhukovskyy had remained in his room, he had not eaten and had not talked to anyone.
According to Donal Frank, defense attorney, the crash was a “tragedy” but said it’s important to let the criminal justice system play out.
Investigators said that Zhukovskyy’s pickup truck was towing a flatbed trailer when it collided with a group of 10 motorcycles Friday on a two-lane highway in the northern New Hampshire community of Randolf. The truck was traveling westbound when it struck the motorcycles that were traveling eastbound.
The victims were members or supporters of the Marine JarHeads, a New England motorcycle club that includes Marines and their spouses, and ranged in age from 42 to 62. Four were from New Hampshire, two from Massachusetts and one from Rhode Island.
George Loring, a JarHeads member who lives in Hingham, Massachusetts, and was a few hundred yards from the crash, said Zhukovskyy has “got to live with it for the rest of his life.”
“Everyone’s suffering so much,” Loring said. “It’s so sad for the brothers and sisters who died. You can be angry at him, you can be whatever. I don’t know. I’m glad he’s been arrested.”
Joseph Mazza, whose nephew Albert Mazza Jr. was killed in the crash, welcomed the arrest but called it a poor consolation for the loss of a loved one.
“As long as he pays a price. He has caused lot of harm to a lot of families,” Mazza said from his Haverhill home. “If has a problem, he shouldn’t be on the road. If he is a bad actor, he doesn’t belong on the street. He caused enough of a tragedy. Enough is enough.”
Authorities have only said they are investigating the cause of the collision.
President of the JarHeads Manny Ribeiro, who survived the crash, said that the group had just finished dinner and were all headed to a fundraiser at an American Legion post in Nearby Gorham. A total of 21 riders and 15 motorcycles were in the group. Ten motorcycles, including Mazza, who was riding next to Ribeiro, were hit.
“It was just an explosion … with parts and Al and everything flying through the air,” he said. “He turned hard left into us and took out pretty much everyone behind me. The truck and trailer stayed attached and that is why it was so devastating … because the trailer was attached and it was such a big trailer, it was like a whip. It just cleaned us out.”
Ribeiro remembers Zhukovskyy “screaming and running around” in the middle of the road following the crash before he was taken into custody by authorities.
“It was very surreal,” he said, adding that he had put a tourniquet on the leg of one rider who remains hospitalized in Maine.
“I saw Al. I knew he was gone right away,” he continued. “At that point, we just tried to figure out who needed help and got to work. There was debris everywhere and the truck was on fire. I was just looking for survivors, familiar faces and trying to find out who I had lost and … trying to help the living.”
The riders who lost their lives have been identified as:
Michael Ferazzi, 62 – Contoocook, New Hampshire
Albert Mazza Jr., 59 – Lee, New Hampshire
Desma Oakes, 42 – Concord, New Hampshire
Aaron Perry, 45 – Farmington, New Hampshire
Daniel Pereira, 58 – Riverside, Rhode Island
Jo-Ann and Edward Corr, both 58 – Lakeville, Massachusetts
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