CONCORD, NH – The driver of a pick-up truck involved in a June 21 crash that left seven motorcyclists dead has been identified by authorities, the first fact released in what will be a “lengthy investigation” into a “horrifying” accident, in the words of Deputy Attorney General Jane Young.
Young spoke during a news conference held Saturday at Coos Superior Court.
That’s when authorities confirmed that among the dead and injured were members and supporters of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, a service club made up of active-duty and honorably discharged Marines, who were en route to a charity event at the American Legion post in Gorham at the time of the crash.
“Yesterday’s tragedy has struck our state and our citizens in a profound way,” said Gov. Chris Sununu, who delivered the first remarks during the news conference, held jointly by several participating agencies.
“Words cannot express the grief that we all share in the loss of these seven individuals,” Sununu said, adding that compounding the tragic death of the seven motorcyclists in Randolph was news of a double fatality in Canterbury, bringing the death toll to nine.
Authorities released few details of Friday’s crash other than the name of the driver of a 2016 Dodge pick-up truck, Volodoymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, of West Springfield, MA., who was hauling a car trailer as he drove west on Route 2. NH State Police Col. Chris Wagner said the pick-up struck approximately 10 motorcycles which were traveling east in a pack, resulting in seven fatalities and three injuries.
Two of the injured have been released from the hospital. One person remains hospitalized. Authorities have declined to identify any of the victims, saying that some of the families of the deceased have yet to be contacted.
“Make no mistake, this is one of the worst tragic incidences we’ve investigated in our state,” said Wagner, who described the accident as a “mass casualty” event.
Accident reconstruction teams remained on the scene Saturday using new aerial drone technology to capture all available evidence from the scene, Wagner said. Route 12 was closed for approximately 12 hours after the accident.
National Transportation Safety Bureau Investigator Kenny Bragg said they will continue their investigation into the “why” of the tragedy. Bragg said their part in the investigation would take about five days to complete.
Deputy Attorney General Jane Young reinforced that authorities are asking the media to respect the privacy of the victims’ families
“Last evening the seven victims were removed from the scene and transported to the Chief Medical Examiner’s office in Concord. Autopsies on those victims began this morning and continue as we appear at this press conference,” Young said.
“I would ask you for your patience in this process as the families begin to grieve the unspeakable and unbelievable for them,” Young said.
Victim advocates were dispatched to work with families and friends of those killed in the accident.
Names of the dead would not be released before Sunday, Young said. “Right now we have more questions than answers,” she said.
Coos County Attorney McCormick asked that anyone who may have photos or video of the Dodge pickup truck hauling the trailer prior to or after the crash should contact investigators at NH State Police at 271-3636.
No charges or arrests have been made in the incident, as the investigation is just beginning, McCormick said.