GORHAM — The executive committee of the American Legion Post 82 has decided to give to the JarHeads Motorcycle Club the project with which it had planned to honor the “Fallen 7.”
All five men who died the evening of June 21, 2019, on Route 2 in Randolph after a pickup truck plowed into their group were Marine veterans who belonged to the JarHeads MC. Two women who were passengers also died. They were all part of a group of 10 motorcyclists heading out to a charity event at Post 82.
Vlodomyr Zhukovskyy, 24, of West Springfield, Mass., faces seven counts of negligent homicide, seven counts of negligent homicide-DUI, seven counts of manslaughter, one count of aggravated DUI and one count of reckless conduct in the accident. He has pleaded not guilty.
Killed as a result of the collision were Mazza, 59, of Lee, Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, R.I., Michael Ferrazi, 62, of Contoocook, Aaron Perry, 45, of Lee, Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord, and Edward and Joan Corr, both 58 of Lakeview, Mass. In addition, two people were injured.
The executive committee of the American Legion post at first decided to build a granite memorial to the so-called “Fallen 7” in Randolph, then looked at using the Legion’s own property at 6 Androscoggin St., off Main Street and across from Gorham Common.
However, Legion Commander Mike Murphy explained that when the JarHeads MC, headquartered in Marlborough, Mass., learned of the change of venue, club spokesman Mike Gasper offered to take over the project, including the memorial now being created and the funds to cover its installation.
Murphy told the Berlin Sun that although the plan to erect a permanent memorial off Route 2, not far from the fatal accident site, had been approved by the select board and the Randolph Forest Commissions, some Randolph property owners members strongly opposed the project.
Some didn’t like the idea that a Christian cross would be part of a memorial located on public property; others didn’t like the Randolph Community Forest being used; and still others feared that traffic drawn to that stretch of highway would continue to disrupt the area.
Murphy said the executive board became concerned that American Legion Post 82 would almost inevitably face a lawsuit that would be costly and time-consuming.
Arrangements to build the granite memorial is now in the hands of Donald Piper of Nicoletti Memorials of Berlin, Murphy said.
The Legion successfully raised some $12,000 for the memorial and another $4,000-plus for the site work that the original location would require. The Legion also pledged to maintain the memorial and its immediate surroundings in perpetuity. Plans also were discussed to add flagpoles and granite benches.
The JarHeads have apparently not decided exactly where the memorial will be installed, the commander said.
It could be on the Legion’s own property; it could be on the original site in Randolph; or it could be near the steel silhouettes of five motorcycles donated by the Recycled Percussion band that were unveiled on Oct. 19, 2019, in a field owned by the Mt. Jefferson View Motel on the north side of Route 2. That’s the motel where the JarHeads had checked in for the weekend before heading east to the Legion.
It also could be at another location entirely.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first annual memorial ride that was scheduled this June has been postponed.
Over 3,000 motorcycles and some 4,500 riders participated in an emotional and well-organized “Fallen 7” memorial ride last July 6
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