Attorneys for the Massachusetts man who allegedly crashed his truck and attached trailer into a group of motorcyclists in New Hampshire last June, killing seven people, are saying an initial police assessment of the horrific incident was deeply flawed and want a court to reexamine if their client needs to be behind bars while he awaits trial.
Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 24, of West Springfield, is facing a litany of charges, including multiple counts of negligent homicide and reckless manslaughter, in connection with the grisly June 21 crash in Randolph, N.H.
Now, his attorneys are suggesting the beginning of the crash occurred directly on the roadway’s yellow center line, calling into question an initial finding that Zhukovskyy’s trailer had veered into the wrong lane at the time of the initial impact. In a filing made Friday in Coos County Superior Court, they also assert that the motorcycle rider first struck in the incident was legally drunk at the time of the crash.
Zhukovskyy’s public defenders in the court filing said that the initial assessment from a State Police collision analysis and reconstruction unit found that the first point of contact in the crash was between their client’s trailer and a motorcycle driven by Albert Mazza, who was killed in the incident. State Police concluded that Zhukovskyy’s trailer was a foot-and-a-half over the roadway’s center line, making it partially in the eastbound lane of traffic at the time of impact, according to the filing.
The police report did not indicate there was any evidence to suggest the motorcycles involved in the crash were on the wrong side of the road at the time of the incident, according to Zhukovskyy’s attorneys. In fact, the report noted the first visible tire mark from the truck was found at a spot where the it would have been protruding into the eastbound lane by 4 feet.
Zhukovskyy’s lawyers, however, said that state authorities recently disclosed a report from an independent accident reconstruction firm that shows the initial assessment from the State Police unit was “deeply flawed and that all the above information was incorrect.”
That independent report concludes that the initial impact between Mazza’s motorcycle and the truck “occurred directly over the center line and that Mr. Mazza’s motorcycle was in fact protruding over onto the center line when it struck the truck,” according to the filing.
The impact caused air loss to the truck’s left tire, which left a tire mark on the center line of the road, a mark that was initially cited as evidence of an “unsuccessful avoidance maneuver” by Mazza, something authorities have since retracted, according to the filing from Zhukovskyy’s lawyers.
State officials also provided information in discovery suggesting that Mazza had turned around to look back at the group of motorcycle riders just before the crash, and that autopsy reports indicated Mazza’s blood alcohol level was .135 at the time of the crash, which is above the impairment limit of .08, Zhukovskyy’s lawyers said.
“Given the dramatically different factual circumstances as they are known at this time, Mr. Zhukovskyy respectfully requests an evidentiary hearing on the continuing need for preventative detention,” said his attorneys in the filing.
Mazza’s daughter, Brittany Mazza, in a statement issued through her attorney Tuesday, said “I will continue to rely upon the District Attorney’s office to prosecute the criminal matter. Beyond that, I have no further comment.”
A previously released report on the crash by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said Zhukovskyy was high on drugs at the time of the crash and said he was reaching for a drink on the passenger side of his truck when the vehicle crossed the center line and slammed into the motorcycles.
He also tested positive after the collision for an unspecified drug that rendered him incapable of driving safely, federal regulators found.
Zhukovskyy is currently being held at the Coos County House of Corrections. The state has 10 days from the date of filing to file an objection, according to a spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Supreme Court, and the court will then determine if a hearing on the motion will be scheduled. Currently, all bail hearings at Coos Superior Court are being conducted via video.
Zhukovskyy’s case caused an outcry after it came to light that Registry of Motor Vehicles officials in Massachusetts had previously failed to suspend his license following an arrest in Connecticut for impaired driving. The then-Massachusetts registrar resigned, and another RMV official was fired.
The people killed in the crash were Mazza, 59, of Lee, N.H.; Jo-Ann and Edward Corr, both 58, of Lakeville; Michael Ferazzi, 62, of Contoocook, N.H.; Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, R.I.; Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord, N.H.; and Aaron Perry, 45, of Farmington, N.H.
Among the victims were five members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club — a group of Marine Corps veterans from across New England — along with one member’s wife and another’s girlfriend.
Material from previous Globe coverage was used in this report.