RANDOLPH — A 23-year-old truck driver was arrested in West Springfield, Mass., on Monday morning in connection with the crash in Randolph last Friday that claimed the lives of seven motorcyclists.
New Hampshire Deputy Attorney General Jane Young said Volodymyr Zhukovskyy was arrested at 8 a.m. Monday on a fugitive from justice charge at his home at 90 New Bridge St. in West Springfield by Massachusetts State Police.
Young said the charge is based on an arrest warrant issued Monday that charges him with seven counts of negligent homicide.
In what many law enforcement officials say was one of the worst accidents in the state’s history, members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club collided on June 21 at approximately 6:30 p.m. with a 2016 Dodge pickup truck hauling a flatbed trailer on Route 2.
Killed were Michael Ferazzi, 62, of Contoocook; Albert Mazza, 59, of Lee; Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, R.I.; Joanne and Edward Corr, both 58, of Lakeville, Mass.; and Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord, and Aaron Perry, 45, of Farmington, a dating couple.
Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jennie Duval determined that all seven died of blunt trauma.
Three others were injured, including one who was air transported to Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine. The other two were taken to Androscoggin Valley Hospital for treatment and released.
Zhukovskyy reportedly was working for Westfield Transport of Springfield, Mass., towing cars. State Police Troop F Cmdr. Gary Prince said Zhukovskyy was not injured in the crash, whose cause remains under investigation.
The motorcyclists were in the area for a reunion and were staying at the Mount Jefferson View Motel in Randolph. They had left the motel and were traveling east on Route 2 to attend the Friday night raffle at the Gorham American Legion when the accident occurred less than 500 feet from the motel.
Randolph Fire Chief Dana Horne said the part of Route 2 where the accident occurred has been the scene of many accidents. The road narrows and there is a righthand curve. “It’s a blind corner,” he said.
Horne was walking into Mary’s Pizza in Gorham to have dinner with his family when both his radio and cellphone went off. He and son Brett left immediately; the two were the first officials at the scene. Horne said he found himself in the middle “of one of the most horrific scenes” he had encountered, with people screaming. “There was a lot of chaos,” he said.
Mutual aid was immediately dispatched, with fire units from Randolph, Gorham and Jefferson as well as Gorham Ambulance and Berlin Emergency Medical Service. Also assisting state police were members of the N.H. Department of Transportation and the Coos County Sheriff’s Department. Many worked through the night.
Gorham fire trucks went to work on the truck, which had burst into flames. Route 2 was shut down; Randolph firefighters handled traffic control on their end, and Jefferson Fire Department stopped all vehicles coming from the west end of the scene.
Randolph firefighter Bill Arnold said he was asked to set up a landing zone on Route 2 because the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced Response Team helicopter had been called.
However, rain in the Lebanon area prevented the chopper from flying and the patient was transported to AVH and then flown to Maine Medical.
As neither the hand-held radios nor the cellphones worked, Horne coordinated fire operations by keeping the door of his truck open and using his truck radio. “I basically tied myself to a radio,” he said.
In addition to assisting with traffic, Arnold said firefighters were charged with making sure nothing was moved until state police documented the scene, which they used a drone to photograph.
Route 2 remained closed until 6:30 a.m. Saturday.
An estimated 50 mutual aid volunteers assisted throughout the night. “One of the amazing things about the North Country — we have an amazing mutual aid system,” Horne said.
Gov. Chris Sununu ordered flags to fly at half-mast Monday in memory of the victims.“Friday’s tragedy has struck our state and our citizens in a profound way. I want to express our sincerest condolences and prayers to the victims and their families. Words cannot express the grief we all share in the loss of these seven individuals,” he said.
A prayer vigil for the victims was held Saturday night at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Berlin. They were also remembered at the Blessing of the Bikes in Columbia on Sunday.
In North Conway, the U.S. flag and a POW-MIA flag flew at half-mast. The sign in front of the Harley Davidson store on Route 16 in Conway read: “Save a life, look twice, RIP 7 Angels.”
A GoFundMe page set up for the accident victims describes the club as “consisting of active duty or honorably discharged Marines and FMF Corpsmen. We ride and serve veterans and veteran families in our committees, with chapters in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.”
The Jarheads MC GoFundMe page had raised over half of its $700,000 goal by Monday evening.
Back in Randolph, a steady stream of people stopped by the crash site over the weekend to pay their respects. Many left American or Marine Corp flags, creating a makeshift memorial.
“I didn’t know any of them,” said Claudette Landry of Gorham. “I can’t believe anything like this happened. It’s so heartbreaking.”
Tributes poured in on Facebook from the victims’ friends. Of Joanne Corr, one friend wrote, “I hope I am going to wake up from this bad dream ... You are going to be so dearly missed.”