CONCORD, N.H. – The driver of a pickup truck in a fiery collision on a rural New Hampshire highway that killed seven motorcyclists was charged Monday with seven counts of negligent homicide, and records show he was stopped on suspicion of drunken driving last month and in 2013.
Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, was arrested Monday morning at his home in West Springfield, Mass., the New Hampshire attorney general's office said. He will be arraigned Tuesday in Lancaster, N.H., authorities said.
He was handed over to New Hampshire authorities after a brief court appearance Monday in Springfield, Mass. Zhukovskyy looked down at his feet as he was led into the courtroom with his hands cuffed behind his back.
Connecticut prosecutors say he was arrested 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 his truck engine and jumping up and down outside the vehicle.
Additionally, Zhukovskyy was arrested on a drunken driving charge in 2013 in Westfield, Mass., state motor vehicle records show. He was placed on probation for one year and had his license suspended for 210 days.
A man who answered the phone at the home of Zhukovskyy's family and would identify himself only as his brother-in-law said Monday that the family is in shock and feeling the same pain as everyone else but couldn't say whether the driver was right or wrong.
Defense attorney Donald Frank called Friday's crash a "tragedy" but said it's important to let the criminal justice system play out.
Zhukovskyy's pickup truck, towing a flatbed trailer, collided with a group of 10 motorcycles Friday on a two-lane highway in the northern New Hampshire community of Randolph, investigators said. The truck was traveling west when it struck the eastbound group of motorcycles.
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.
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."
Authorities have only said they are investigating the cause of the collision.
JarHeads President Manny Ribeiro, who survived the crash, said the group had just finished dinner and was heading to a fundraiser at 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."