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Survivors detail painful recoveries in wake of crash that killed seven bikers in North Country

Dawn Brindley, who was riding in the pack the day of the crash in Randolph, after testifying Wednesday.
Todd Bookman/NHPR
Dawn Brindley, who was riding in the pack the day of the crash in Randolph, after testifying Wednesday.

Family members and survivors of a horrific crash in Randolph five years ago described the devastation wrought by the incident, and their slow recovery, during a hearing Wednesday in Concord.

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy was driving a truck towing a car carrier when he collided with the lead rider in a group of bikers from the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, which is made up of U.S. Marines, on Route 2 on June 21, 2019. Seven riders were killed in the crash, with others injured.

Following a two-week trial in Coos County Superior Court in 2022, a jury found Zhukovskyy not guilty, after hearing evidence that the lead rider was over the legal alcohol limit at the time of the crash, and that the collision occurred on the double yellow line.

Last fall, Zhukovskyy applied for the restoration of his driving privileges, which have been suspended since shortly after the crash. A hearings officer previously ruled he played a material role in the collision, clearing the way for Wednesday’s hearing to determine his punishment.

Three motorcyclists who were riding in the pack during the 2019 crash offered testimony, including David Bark. He said serving in the Marine Corps didn’t prepare him for the carnage he witnessed that evening.

“The absurdity that someone that caused such incredible, horrible pain to so many people has the audacity to say ‘I want my privilege back,’” said Bark.

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy appeared during the hearing through a video link, rather than in-person, at the state's request. He's seeking the restoration of his driving priviledges.
Todd Bookman/NHPR
Volodymyr Zhukovskyy appeared during the hearing through a video link, rather than in-person, at the state's request. He's seeking the restoration of his driving priviledges.

Zhukovskyy appeared via remote video link during the hearing. It isn’t clear where he currently resides, but he told the hearing officer who will determine his suspension length that he has been sober since the collision. Zhukovskyy previously admitted that he ingested a mixture of cocaine and heroin about 12 hours before the crash.

He also offered his condolences to those affected by the collision.

State authorities are seeking a seven-year suspension of Zhukovskyy’s driving privileges, on top of the interim suspension he’s already been serving since the incident. A lawyer for Zhukovskyy argued the suspension period started when the interim suspension was enacted, and that he should have his privileges restored now, so that he can begin the process of requesting his driver’s license be reinstated in Massachusetts, where it was issued.

At the time of the crash, Zhukovskyy was already facing charges for a drunk driving offense in Connecticut, which should have prompted the revocation of his Massachusetts license. Bay State motor vehicle officials, however, failed to process the necessary paperwork. A subsequent review found that motor vehicle officials in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire were routinely failing to process out-of-state record suspensions in a timely fashion.

Dawn Brindley, one of the riders on scene that day, told a hearings officer that Zhukovskyy shouldn’t be back on the road.

“The carnage that you caused that day will never leave my memories. You destroyed many lives that day, and forever scarred me,” she said.

Following his acquittal in 2022, Zhukovksyy was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who cited his previous drug possession convictions and driving with a suspended license, according to the Associated Press. Zhukobskyy is a Ukrainian national. The AP reported that last year he was ordered to be deported, but that his removal is on hold given the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University. He can be reached at tbookman@nhpr.org.
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