In June 2019, a group of 22 bikers on their way to a charity event in New Hampshire were struck by a pickup truck driver hauling a large trailer. This man was a professional driver working for a company named Westfield Transport, based in Springfield. Seven of the bikers, members of the Marine JarHeads MC, were killed. Many others were catastrophically injured by the truck accident.
According to eyewitnesses, the truck driver was acting erratically and crossed over the center line of the two-lane highway, ramming into the group of 15 motorcycles. Manny Ribeiro, president of the Marine JarHeads MC, described what happened on the ground in an interview with a local CBS affiliate: “It was just an explosion … with parts and [a fellow rider] and everything flying through the air. He turned hard left into us and took out pretty much everyone behind me. … Because the trailer was attached and it was such a big trailer, it was like a whip. It just cleaned us out.”
Though Ribeiro and less injured bikers applied tourniquets and performed first aid, they could not stem the losses. “This is far worse than anything I’ve ever experienced. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. It was awful.”
The man who plowed into the group of motorcyclists was Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23. At the scene of the multi-motorcycle crash, Ribeiro says Zhukovskyy exited the pickup truck and started screaming and running around. The East Windsor police, who responded to the scene, noted Zhukovskyy was making suicidal comments and exhibiting extreme behavior, and sent him to the hospital. On that day, he was questioned and released, only to be arrested on June 24th and charged with seven counts of negligent homicide. At his home in Massachusetts, officers discovered packets containing what they believe to be heroin residue.
However, there may be more to the story of liability in this case. According to records uncovered by the Associated Press, Westfield Transport, Zhukovskyy’s employer, has been cited for various violations in the past two years. At times, its drivers were found to be in possession of narcotics, to be operating without a valid commercial driver’s license, to be speeding, and to be driving a vehicle with defective brakes. Additionally, Zhukovskyy himself had a previous arrest for drunk driving in 2013.
This begs the question: why was this man allowed to drive a commercial vehicle on public roads? Trucking companies are responsible for screening their employees, and the fact that Zhukovskyy’s license had been suspended by the state due to a DUI arrest was cause for grave concern. In other states, one DUI is enough—a commercial driver’s license holder forfeits their career after that, because getting behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound vehicle with a history of drunk driving is not acceptable. This fatal crash on a New Hampshire highway is precisely why.
NordstrandBlack PC believes this trucking company will face serious government questions and wrongful death lawsuits before long. We hope that justice will be done, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families.
If you are ever involved in a crash with a commercial vehicle in Southern California, do not hesitate to call our Santa Barbara personal injury attorneys at (805) 962-2022 for legal support. Your consultation is free.
A GoFundMe has been set up for the victims. Please give if you feel led.