Truck Driver Found Not Guilty in Fatal Crash Wants His License Back, but the State Says He Contributed to the Accident

Truck Driver Found Not Guilty in Fatal Crash Wants His License Back, but the State Says He Contributed to the Accident

A commercial truck driver who was found not guilty of killing seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire talked at a hearing on Wednesday about his request to get his license back, but a lawyer for the state said he still had something to do with the 2019 crash.

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy was found not guilty of multiple counts of manslaughter and negligent homicide in 2022. These charges were related to the accident in Randolph that killed seven members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, a group in New England for Marine Corps veterans and their families.

Zhukovskyy was born in Ukraine and moved to the United States as a child. He had permanent residency, but after being arrested in New Hampshire after the crash on June 21, 2019, his Massachusetts license was automatically taken away.

Zhukovskyy, 28, told a four-hour administrative hearing in Concord that he thought he caused the accident based on talks he had with police at the time. He appeared via video. “The stress made me feel like I was in a bubble.”

Prosecutors said Zhukovskyy, who had been high on heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine the day of the accident, swerved back and forth a lot before it happened and told police he was to blame. But eight charges of impairment were dropped by the judge, and the lead biker’s lawyers said he was drunk and not paying attention when he lost control of his bike and slid into Zhukovskyy’s truck, which was pulling an empty flatbed trailer.

Zhukovskyy’s lawyers also said there was no proof he was drunk at the time of the accident and that cops didn’t notice anything in the hours afterward that would suggest he was.

Hearings officer Ryan McFarland would have to decide if Zhukovskyy drove “in an unlawful and reckless manner” that “materially contributed” to the accident in order for Zhukovskyy’s license to be reinstated. After the meeting, McFarland said he would think about the case. Zhukovskyy’s license could be taken away for up to seven years if the judge rules in favor of the state.

One former member of the Jarheads who was hurt in the crash spoke out against getting the license back.

“You’re all at risk of this guy driving again,” Manny Ribeiro told reporters after the hearing on Wednesday. “I know what took place that day.” “I was there.”

At the time, the murder verdict made Gov. Chris Sununu and Attorney General John Formella very angry. Gov. Sununu said the seven bikers “did not receive justice,” and Attorney General Formella said he thought the state proved its case.

At his hearing on Wednesday, Zhukovskyy said that he was going around a crest on an east-west highway when he saw a motorcycle coming toward him and slammed on the brakes.

His lawyer, Earle Wingate III, said, “He responded in seconds.” “He wasn’t to blame for the crash.”

A lawyer for the state Department of Safety named David Hilts, however, disputed that story based on reports from experts. He said that maps of where the tires were at the time showed that Zhukovskyy did not see the motorbike coming.

“The impact took place.” Hilts said, “He jams on his breaks.”

Based on the interviews with the cops, Hilts asked Zhukovskyy a lot of questions about his drug use. In the last part of his speech, the lawyer said that Zhukovskyy did everything he could to avoid answering his questions about drug use and being impaired.

Hilts also talked about other crashes Zhukovskyy had been in, including one that happened 18 days before the Randolph crash. He said that Zhukovskyy and Albert “Woody” Mazza Jr., the lead biker, both did things that made the crash worse. He was one of the seven people who died. His autopsy report said that his blood alcohol level was 0.135%, which is much higher than the legal limit of 0.08%.

Zhukovskyy’s license should have been taken away at that time because he had been caught in Connecticut in May 2019 for drunk driving. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles was told by officials in Connecticut, but Zhukovskyy’s license wasn’t taken away because of a backlog of notices from other states about driving offenses. The case in Connecticut is still going on.

After the 2022 decision, Zhukovskyy was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement because he had been convicted of drug possession, driving with a suspended license, giving false information, and theft in the past. Zhukovskyy was moved from a county jail in New Hampshire to a federal prison.

Zhukovskyy’s immigration lawyer asked for refuge for his client. In February 2023, a judge told Zhukovskyy to leave the country. But it’s not clear why he would be sent to a country that is at war with Russia. Repatriation planes to Ukraine have been put on hold, and qualified Ukrainians can now get Temporary Protected Status.

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