More than three years after a collision on Route 2 in Randolph killed seven members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, the driver of a pick-up truck towing a car carrier has been found not guilty on all charges for his role in the crash.
Jurors in Coos County Superior Court on Tuesday delivered the unanimous verdict following a trial that stretched across three weeks. Prosecutors argued that Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 26, of West Springfield, Massachusetts, caused the crash when his 2016 Dodge Ram 2500 veered across the road’s center line, where he struck the first motorcyclist in the pack, Albert “Woody” Mazza. Zhukovskyy told officers following the crash he was distracted, reaching for a drink inside of the cab of his truck.
Defense attorneys pointed to Mazza’s blood alcohol levels, which were above the legal limit, as well as an accident reconstruction report that they contend showed the collision occurred directly on the road’s center line, and that Mazza veered into the truck due to his impairment.
Zhukovskyy has been held in detention since the crash. As the jury read the verdict at approximately 2:40 p.m., a courtroom camera panned to capture him breathing heavily and pointing upward.
Zhukovskyy was originally charged with negligent homicide while impaired, after he told officers he had consumed heroin and cocaine the morning of the collision. But after hearing testimony from multiple law enforcement officers who said they detected no impairment immediately following the crash, as well as the testimony of a lab official who reviewed an analysis of Zhukovskyy’s blood, Judge Peter Bornstein dismissed the impairment charges after the prosecution rested its case.
The Jarheads Motorcycle Club is made up of Marines and their supporters. The group had gathered in Randolph on June 21, 2019 for an annual meeting, and were heading east to an American Legion Hall when the collision occurred. Along with seven fatalities, another driver was seriously injured.
During closing arguments Tuesday, Jay Duguay, an attorney for Zhukovskyy, said the scene of the collision was “horrific,” but pointed to Mazza’s blood alcohol level and impairment as the cause.
“The predominant cause of this accident was Al Mazza driving his motorcycle drunk, not looking where he was going, losing control of his bike, before sliding into Mr. Zhukovskyy’s truck,” Duguay told the jury.
Prosecutors countered that the defendant was a “substantial factor” in the crash, telling jurors that Zhukovskyy admitted to not paying attention to the road when he reached for the drink.
They also pointed to numerous witnesses who said they saw Zhukovskyy driving erratically before the crash.
One witness called during the trial described the scene of the collision as akin to a plane crash, with motorcycle parts and bodies spread across more than 200 feet of roadway. Since the collision, a memorial to the ‘Fallen Seven’ has been erected in Randolph near the scene of the crash.
At the time of the collision, Zhukovskyy’s license was supposed to be suspended following a DUI arrest in Connecticut. Employees for Massachusetts’ motor vehicle agency, however, failed to process the paperwork. The breakdown in record processing launched an investigation across the region that found state motor vehicle agencies, including in New Hampshire, routinely failed to process out-of-state notifications on a timely basis.