By KATHY McCORMACK Associated Press
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The trial for a commercial truck driver charged with causing the deaths in 2019 of seven members of a Marine motorcycle club will open Tuesday, more than three years after the crash in northern New Hampshire.
Jurors visited the crash scene Monday and traced Volodymyr Zhukovskyy’s route from an auto dealership in Gorham along U.S. Route 2 to the crash site in Randolph, about 10 miles away. Opening statements are expected Tuesday in the trial, which is being held in state superior court in Lancaster.
The motorcyclists who died June 21, 2019, were from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island and ranged in age from 42 to 62. They were part of a larger group that had just left a motel along the highway and were headed to an American Legion Post in Gorham to set up for an annual meeting.
They were traveling east when they collided with the westbound truck, which was towing an empty flatbed trailer.
Killed were Edward and Jo-Ann Corr, a couple from Lakeville, Massachusetts; Michael Ferazzi, of Contoocook, New Hampshire; Albert Mazza, of Lee, New Hampshire; Desma Oakes, of Concord, New Hampshire; Aaron Perry, of Farmington, New Hampshire; and Daniel Pereira, of Riverside, Rhode Island.
In addition to the deaths, several bikers were injured.
Zhukovskyy, 26, of West Springfield, Massachusetts, has pleaded not guilty to negligent homicide, manslaughter, driving under the influence and reckless conduct. He has been in jail since then.
Federal investigators said Zhukovskyy, who was returning from delivering vehicles for a Massachusetts transport company, regularly used drugs.
Zhukovskyy himself told police that he had used both heroin and cocaine that morning, but that he was “fine and OK to drive” later that evening, authorities said.
His lawyers have argued an independent analysis showed one of the motorcyclists who died was drunk and was the one who hit the truck and caused the crash. Federal investigators found that some of the bikers and passengers were impaired by alcohol, but that it wasn’t the reason for the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board approved a report in December 2020 that concluded that Zhukovskyy’s impairment from the drugs was the “probable cause” for him crossing the center line on the highway and sparking the fiery crash.
Prosecutors said Zhukovskyy should never have been on the road in the first place. His commercial driving license should have been revoked in Massachusetts because of a drunken driving arrest in Connecticut about two months earlier, they said.