Seven Dead Following New Hampshire Motorcycle, Truck Crash
Police: Truck driver’s license should have been suspended weeks before
A recent multi-fatality accident in New Hampshire is yet another reminder of what state and federal safety agencies have stated time and time again: when a highway accident involves a motorcycle and any other vehicle, the motorcyclist is at a far greater risk of serious injury, or even death, than is the other driver. Thus, we have a duty to be particularly careful when we encounter a motorcycle in traffic.
In today’s post, the commercial vehicle and trucking accident lawyer at The Doan Law Firm will describe a recent commercial truck accident in New Hampshire that killed seven members of a local motorcycle club. He will then present a review of the federal regulations that govern the operation of commercial vehicles before concluding with suggestions that may be of interest to those who have lost a family member in a similar accident.
At about 6:30 p.m. on June 21st, ten motorcycles belonging to members of the Marine Jarheads Motorcycle Club of New Hampshire were traveling east on U.S. Route 2 just outside Randolph, New Hampshire. According to a witness, a westbound 2016 Dodge 2500 pickup truck towing an empty flatbed trailer “large enough to transport a car” was seen driving erratically seconds before crossing into the eastbound lane and plowing into the group of cyclists. According to the New Hampshire State Police, the ensuing crash killed seven cyclists/riders and injured three others in the group.
The driver of the pickup was identified as Volodoymyr Zhukovskyy, a 23-year-old resident of West Springfield, Massachusetts, and a native of the Ukraine. Investigators later determined that Zhukovskyy was an employee of Westfield Transport, Inc., also of West Springfield. Although Zhukovskyy was allowed to return to Massachusetts following the accident, he was arrested three days later by Massachusetts authorities after being charged with seven counts of negligent homicide by a New Hampshire court. He waived an extradition and was returned to New Hampshire, where he was arraigned the following day (June 25th). After entering a “not guilty” plea on each count, he is reportedly being held at the Coos County (NH) Department of Corrections under an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer.
An ICE detainer, also known as an “immigration hold,” is a request that an immigrant who has been arrested on a criminal charge be held in custody an additional 48 hours beyond the time when that individual would have been eligible for release. This “hold” allows federal investigators to determine if the individual has committed a crime that could lead to deportation.
As with any accident investigation, the “facts” in this tragedy are only just beginning to emerge and the details cited here are taken from news reports and other “unofficial” sources. With this in mind, we can turn to what is currently known regarding this accident. Since Zhukovskyy was driving a commercial vehicle at the time the crash occurred, let’s begin with a review of the federal laws that apply to both Zhukovskyy and to his employer.
In order to legally operate a commercial vehicle engaged in interstate commerce, Zhukovskyy was required to possess a valid commercial driver’s license issued by a state’s licensing authority. In order to be issued a CDL, a driver must:
- Submit to a background check, including previous driving record
- Pass a CDL physical exam administered by an approved medial practitioner, including a “drug screen”
- Pass a written test
- Pass a driving skills for each class (type) of vehicle the driver may operate
- Possess endorsements (special permissions) for certain types of cargo
Apparently, Zhukovskyy had met those requirements and had been issued a CDL in his home state of Massachusetts. Early investigation, however, strongly suggests that he should not have been driving at the time of the accident!
As an additional safeguard if any CDL holder refuses a lawful order to submit to a chemical DUI/DWI test, either while on-duty or while off-duty driving another vehicle, the CDL is immediately suspended. Since federal regulations hold that a “refusal” is the same as a “guilty plea,” a CDL holder is required by law to inform his/her employer of the suspension within 30 days. Zhukovskyy failed to do this.
On May 11th, 42 days prior to the New Hampshire crash, Zhukovskyy had been arrested in Connecticut on a DUI charge and refused the chemical DUI test. His license was therefore invalid from that time! Whether he informed his employer, as required by law, is unknown.
Injured in a commercial motor vehicle accident? Protect your legal rights with a commercial vehicle accident injury lawyer
While the known facts in the New Hampshire may appear “cut and dried,” as a personal injury law firm that has represented hundreds of commercial vehicle accident victims, we know that this case is an exception rather than a rule.
We have found that there are often many factors that may be overlooked in an “official” investigation of an accident. Since poorly-designed or malfunctioning vehicle parts may go unnoticed unless they directly contributed to an accident, you will need the services of a law firm with a proven record in accident investigations to insure that you receive every dollar of the compensation that you deserve. One such lawyer is the commercial vehicle accident injury lawyer at The Doan Law Firm, a national personal injury law practice with offices located across the country.
When you contact our firm, your case review and first consultation with our commercial vehicle accident injury lawyer is always free of any charge and does not mean that you must hire us as your legal counsel. Should you decide that you wish to file a lawsuit, and that you would like for us represent you in court, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for a percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.