COOS COUNTY, NH – He was high. He was driving. He was a repeat offender. And now, he is free. Well, at least on those charges.
It was just over three years ago that we brought you the story of the Jarhead Motorcycle Club and the tragedy that struck their group, and the families, of several of their members.
On Friday, June 21, 2019, a group of riders from the club were making a 10-mile trek from their hotel to a charity event at an American Legion in Randolph, New Hampshire.
A few minutes into that ride, a transport truck being driven by an intoxicated individual was alleged to have crossed the center line, striking multiple riders, starting a chain reaction of bikers going down.
Seven people were killed. They included 5 Marine Corps veterans and two spouses.
Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, a 26-year-old Ukranian national, told police at the time that he was responsible for the deadly crash, and that he was high on fentanyl, cocaine and heroin at the time of the crash, having taken the drugs earlier in the day.
According to the Daily Mail, the National Transportation Safety Board investigators concluded that Zhukovskyy was impaired by the drugs and that he in fact crossed the center line into oncoming traffic.
In this tragic case, you have a defendant who confessed to driving high and plowing into the bikers. You have experts in recreating traffic accidents who validated not only the defendant’s own story, but also the corresponding eyewitness testimony of the other bikers that were not killed.
And after two weeks of trial, jurors took less than three hours to return with a verdict on seven counts of manslaughter and negligent homicide and one count of reckless conduct.
The words of the jury will continue to echo in the hearts and minds of the family members who were expecting justice to be served on Tuesday.
The defendant confessed. Experts recreated the scene. Witnesses testified. All their stories added up.
Not guilty? How is that possible?
First, the judge dismissed all eight of the charges against Zhukovskyy pertaining to his impairment. It turns out, police at the scene never questioned the defendant’s sobriety, and prosecutors were unable to provide enough evidence of intoxication at the time of the accident.
However, the defense was able to document that several members of the motorcycle club were legally intoxicated.
Second, contrary to conclusions drawn by the experts at the NTSB, the defense offered up its own expert to refute those findings. NTSB detailed that the accident did happen across the dividing line and that the BAC of the bikers did not contribute to the accident.
So, why does all of this matter?
“There is no consideration of intoxication and the fact that you have a defense witness talking about what caused the collision, that absolutely would add up to reasonable doubt,” Patricia LaFrance, a former county prosecutor, told WCAX.
But, contrasting the results of the NTSB recreation, the defense’s witness stated that “a swerving bike could have set off the deadly chain of events.”
“[I] Principally focused on the first impact and then I also did a little work with the second impact,” William Howerton said.
It is also unknown whether the prosecution brought his background into evidence.
Just a few weeks prior to this horrific accident, Zhukovskyy was involved in a roll-over accident in Texas. Drugs were involved there as well, but he only received probation.
My heart goes out to their families, friends, and loved ones on this especially dark day. (2/2)
— Chris Sununu (@GovChrisSununu) August 9, 2022
Zhukovskyy has been held in jail since being arrested at the scene of the wreck.
After his acquittal, he was moved from one jail to another, being held on detainer from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and he will likely face deportation back to Ukraine.
“Zhukovskyy has an extensive criminal history including three prior convictions of charges that included possession of cocaine and heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving under suspension, furnishing false Information to an officer and larceny,” according to ICE spokesperson John Mohan.
Truck driver charged with killing 7 Marine bikers should have been previously deported
Less than a month ago, he was arrested and charged with the deaths of seven Marines. Now we’re learning that he should have been deported before these lives were ever tragically lost.
Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, from West Springfield, Massachusetts was the truck driver accused in the deadly crash.
One of the charges he’s facing, in addition to manslaughter; a fugitive from justice charge.
Shortly after the arrest, he was extradited to New Hampshire to face the charges against him, according to New Hampshire State Police.
Police say Zhukovskyy was driving a 2016 Dodge 2500 on Route 2 in Randolph, New Hampshire. It was towing a trailer used to haul cars.
They said he was driving westbound when he crashed into a group of motorcycles driving in the opposite direction. Police do not know why he crossed the center of line.
When emergency crews arrived, the pickup truck was on fire and onlookers had rushed in to try and help the drivers who were thrown all over the road.
But he could have been gone from the United States years ago.
According to police records, Zhukovskyy was arrested on drunken driving charges last month. He was ALSO arrested on drunken driving charges in 2013. And in 2012, he was involved in an accident.
Despite the fact that he was charged with on OUI last month, he was driving for Westfield Transport at the time of the crash.
Those records show police in East Windsor, Connecticut stopped him on May 11 of this year, and that he was also arrested for drunken driving in 2013 in Westfield, Massachusetts.
The conviction in 2013 of his first DUI arrest led to his license being suspended for 210 days because he was tagged as “an immediate threat.” He was also arrested in Baytown, Texas on Feb. 11 on possession of a crack pipe.
Reports say Zhukovskyy was charged for unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and speeding in April 2012 – yet those charges were dismissed.
In January 2017, he pleaded guilty to two drug charges for possession of cocaine and heroin, but just paid a fine.
In 2015, in addition to the driving and drug charges, he received a 90-day suspended jail sentence in Connecticut for larceny after he admitted to stealing ladders and windows at a Home Deport warehouse.
While Zhukovskyy wasn’t here illegally, he is a citizen of Ukraine who resides here on a green card – he’s been in the U.S. living with his family for 13 years.
But that green card doesn’t entitle anyone to an affirmative right to remain in this country.
Just the opposite – it is a probationary period for them to demonstrate “good moral character” (INA 316(e)).
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has confirmed that “a detainer has been placed to take Mr. Zhukovskyy into custody at the conclusion of local criminal proceedings.”
Only now is ICE requesting information on the 2017 drug conviction, which demonstrates that the law enforcement organization had no idea of his status at the time.
It’s a growing trend in Democrat-run states like Massachusetts that are blocking local and state law enforcement from sharing information like this with federal law enforcement.
The 2015 larceny conviction alone should have made him deportable right away – ICE should have been notified.
Theft is included in a “crime of moral turpitude” – that makes legal immigrants deportable under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A).
Same goes for 2017, when he became deportable because drug possession (except for certain marijuana offenses) make an alien deportable under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B).
Yet he continued to rack up driving offenses without his past history being shared with the proper law enforcement agencies. It demonstrates the weakness in enforcing current laws and leading to avoidable deaths at the hands of foreign nationals who could have – and should have – been deported.
Sanctuary states like Massachusetts are working to hide criminal records from ICE to ensure that they can’t weed out the criminal elements in the country.
Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies lived in Massachusetts for many years and weighed in, saying Massachusetts laws are “inadequate to protect the public.”
“It is evident that the commonwealth of Massachusetts is failing to manage the issuance of regular and commercial driver’s licenses to prevent unqualified, unsafe drivers from obtaining these credentials, and yet at the same time, the Legislature wants to add to the problem by allowing illegal aliens to receive driver’s licenses. This will make the problem worse because the Registry of Motor Vehicles will have no way to authenticate their identity, meaning that they will have no clue about their past driving history or suitability for a license. Clearly, the state needs to be more restrictive in screening for licenses, not less.”
What makes things worse is that the state is actively working to undermine federal immigration officers.
Vaughan says the bill before the state Senate:
“Would not only discourage sharing of information between local and federal authorities about non-citizens who are a danger to the public, but it would protect them from contact with ICE and even mandate their release while charges are pending, even if ICE is seeking to deport them.”
That means that instead of preventing situations like this, the bill would also “require the release of an illegal alien who is charged with an atrocity like this – guaranteeing that they remain free in the country and likely free from consequences for their actions.”
At Zhukovskyy’s arraignment Judge Peter H. Bornstein said his “criminal and driving history exhibit a pattern of operating a motor vehicle in a dangerous manner. If released, he will likely present a danger to the safety of defendant or the public.”
Yet the suspect’s father told the Boston Herald that his son “recently” obtained a green card, which means that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjusted his status his robust criminal record.
The horrific tragedy has lead to some change – but in an unlikely place.
It took the lives of seven people – seven heroes that were willing to sacrifice their lives for their country – for the Massachusetts RMV to actually look through their records to see who else shouldn’t be on the road.
Now, more than 1,600 Massachusetts residents have had their licenses suspended.
Out-of-state driving violations are reported to the RMV. But if no one takes the initiative to dig through them, drivers who should have their licenses suspended are slipping through the cracks.
And that’s exactly what happened in June.
CapeCod.com reported that the massive quantity of unprocessed out-of-state violations were discovered left in bins at RMV headquarters and were also found during a search of the agency’s archives dating back to 2011.
Take that in for a moment.
These reports would have revoked the licenses of those who shouldn’t be on the road. But because no one actually looked at them or processed them… people died.
“A Friday memo from top registry and transportation officials also said there’s no evidence that the registry had a consistent practice of sending out mail or electronic notification of violations or suspension actions taken in Massachusetts to other states in real time,” the report continued.
These ignored reports would have revoked Volodymyr Zhukovskyy’s license, keeping him off the road after numerous dangerous violations.
The head of the Massachusetts Registry for Motor Vehicles resigned at the end of last month amid controversy over the driver who killed seven United States Marines in a crash.
The backlash concerns the fact that 23-year-old Zhukovskyy was allowed to keep his CDL driver’s license despite the fact that violations from a May incident in Connecticut should have revoked it.
Zhukovskyy received a Massachusetts personal driving license on April 25, 2013, and received a Class A license, or CDL, on Aug. 3, 2018, according to reports. He faced a number of OUI charges and just a few weeks before the horrific crash that claimed the lives of seven veterans, Zhukovskyy flipped an 18-wheeler in Texas.
A report from WHDH Boston said that “
Now they’re making damn sure that no one else gets caught up in the same costly mistake.
Refusing a chemical test is an instant termination of a CDL. Reports suggested that the Connecticut DMV’s notification to Massachusetts RMV did not provide sufficient evidence to automatically generate the revocation, but set it up for a manual review, which evidently was not completed by RMV staff.
Police say that the night of the crash, Zhukovskyy was driving a 2016 Dodge 2500 on Route 2 in Randolph, New Hampshire. It was towing a trailer used to haul cars.
They said he was driving westbound when he crashed into a group of motorcycles driving in the opposite direction. When emergency crews arrived, the pickup truck was on fire and onlookers had rushed in to try and help the drivers who were thrown all over the road.
7 Marines Killed as Truck PLOWS into Motorcycle Group…https://t.co/sz5S3UdpRc
— Chuck Callesto (@ChuckCallesto) June 22, 2019
Seven people were killed in the crash. New Hampshire State Police identified the victims:
- Michael Ferazzi, 62, of Contoocook, NH
- Albert Mazza Jr., 59, of Lee, NH
- Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord, NH
- Aaron Perry, 45, of Farmington, NH
- Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, RI
- Jo-Ann and Edward Corr, both 58, of Lakeville, MA
“There was debris everywhere,” said Miranda Thompson, 21, of Manchester, who was several cars back and recalled seeing a truck in flames on the side of the highway and six motorcycles.
Other drivers pulled over and tried to help the wounded.
“People were in the grass. There were people putting tourniquets on people, trying to make sure they didn’t move,” she said. “You could tell people were lost who it happened too … It was a sad day for all of them.”
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