He Reached for a Drink. A Moment Later, 7 Bikers Were Killed

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy faces negligent homicide charges
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2019 5:29 PM CDT
Driver Who Hit Bikers Was High, Reaching for a Drink: Report
Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, of West Springfield, Mass., is escorted into the courtroom for his arraignment in Springfield District Court on June 24.   (Don Treeger/The Republican via AP, Pool)

The driver of a pickup truck that crossed the center line and hit a group of motorcyclists in New Hampshire, killing seven people, was high at the time, a federal inspection report says. Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, told authorities he was reaching for a drink when the collision occurred on June 21, according to the report, which was obtained by the Boston Globe. It said Zhukovskyy tested positive for a narcotic or amphetamine, which would have made him unable to drive safely. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration declined to elaborate. Zhukovskyy faces seven counts of negligent homicide in the crash; he has pleaded not guilty. Three people also were injured in the crash. The victims were members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, a group consisting of Marines and their spouses. Zhukovskyy, who was unharmed, remains jailed, per Fox News.

The NTSB said Thursday that it is conducting an investigation that will include "a close examination of the driver’s medical and behavioral health history, operating experience as well as a look at how he spent the 72 hours prior to the crash" to determine his condition at the time of the crash. His record includes a string of driving incidents and drug charges in at least six states, per USA Today. Massachusetts officials have said they should have taken Zhukovskyy's commercial driver's license in May, when he refused to take a chemical sobriety test. He was driving for a Massachusetts truck hauling company, pulling a trailer, when he allegedly hit the motorcyclists. An inspector found 24 violations of federal regulations, the report says, involving Zhukovskyy and the vehicle—including bad brakes and lights that didn't work. (The victims were on their way to an American Legion event.)

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