By MICHAEL CASEY, AP October 28, 2020
The pickup truck driver charged with causing the deaths of seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire last year told authorities he had drug problem, regularly used heroin and cocaine but believed he was not impaired at the time of the crash.
The admission by Volodymyr Zhukovskyy was included in a trove of documents released Wednesday by federal investigators related to the the June 21, 2019, crash in Randolph. The National Transportation Safety Board also announced that it will hold a hearing Dec. 1 to discuss probable cause, findings, and any safety recommendations from its investigation.
Zhukovskyy told Massachusetts State Police after his arrest he was using three or four bags of heroin a day and had used both heroin and cocaine the morning of the crash. He acknowledged that he could feel the effects of the cocaine after his last delivery but that he was “fine and okay to drive.”
Zhukovskyy has pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of negligent homicide and driving under the influence. He remains in custody as he awaits trial expected early next year. Prosecutors had previously reported in documents that Zhukovskyy had drugs in his system at the time of the crash including fentanyl, morphine and a chemical found in cocaine.
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Zhukovskyy’s lawyer have argued that an independent analysis of the crash showed one of the motorcyclists was drunk and actually was the one who hit Zhukovskyy’s pickup and caused the crash.
The crash happened on June 21, 2019, in Randolph. The seven were members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, a New England group that includes Marines and their spouses. The victims were from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
The documents also include details, some of them reported previously, about Zhukovskyy’s troubled driving history that included four convictions and two accidents. He should have had his commercial driving license revoked due to a drunken driving arrest in Connecticut two months before the crash.
Zhukovskyy was driving for Westfield Transport, a company based in Massachusetts, at the time of the crash. The company had a history of violations before the crash and the documents released Tuesday provided further details of the troubled company.
It had no corporate safety program, no drug testing program nor any records showing that it had any system for service and repairs. One of its managers also admitted it had lied to investigators about some of the driver logs that were reviewed.
A post-crash review by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also found more than two dozen violations by the company. Among other things, the company was accused of making fraudulent or intentionally false entry on inspection and maintenance record, using a commercial motor vehicle that had not been periodically inspected and using a disqualified driver.
The company shut down shortly after the crash and no number could be found for the owner.