Remembering the 7 victims in the horrific New Hampshire crash
New Hampshire officials on Sunday identified five men and two women — including a married couple from Massachusetts — who died in a horrific crash Friday evening when their motorcycles and a pickup truck driven by a Massachusetts man collided in the White Mountains area.
The crash, which involved members of Jarheads MC, a motorcycle club comprised of Marine Corps veterans, has been called one of the worst tragedies in the state.
The crash took place around 6:30 p.m. Friday in Randolph, when the truck, which was hauling a trailer, collided with the group of motorcycle riders as they headed for an evening raffle about 9 miles away at an American Legion hall in Gorham.
The truck driver has been identified as Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, who works for a transportation company in Springfield, Mass. He did not require hospitalization.
Here’s a closer look at who the victims were:
Albert Mazza, 59, of Lee, N.H.
Albert Mazza’s sister, Tina Mazza, said that the siblings, who were only 10 months apart in age, were very close.
“He was just a really great man, a really great guy and he loved his family very much,” she said. “And he loved being a veteran and taking care of veterans. That’s just how he was. It’s just very difficult for us as a family right now.”
His family described him to the Associated Press as a former Marine and father of two, saying he was a quiet self-starter who fell in love with motorcycles at an early age and always seemed to best anyone he competed against.
When he got out of the Marines, he worked in the defense industry and then the construction business, according to the AP. Along with bikes, relatives said Mazza Jr. was passionate about judo and hunting when he was growing up.
‘‘He was a young man who could do anything,’’ Albert Mazza, his father, told the AP. ‘‘He was a natural at everything ... He was a tough, young guy who didn’t know how to quit ... I was always proud of him and I always bragged on him because I knew he was a better man than I was.’’
Joseph Mazza, an uncle who lives in Haverhill, Mass., told the AP he was still dealing with the accident and trying to comprehend how so many bikers died in one accident.
Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, R.I.
Daniel Pereira, a father of two adult children, served in the Marine Corps, said his wife, Helen Pereira, 57, in an interview.
“There’s just nothing to describe the man that he was, the father that he was,” she said of her husband. They were married 27 years and have two children, 25 and 23 years old. “We’re all devastated,” she said.
She said Pereira joined the Marines at 18, and though it was an integral part of his identity, family came first.
“He was the best man. He would give you the shirt off his back. And everything he did was for charity, helping with the Marines,” she said of Pereira, a lifelong East Providence-area resident.
Steven Lewis, 57, was five or six bikes behind Pereira, who was his best friend, when the truck and trailer veered into the group.
They were about 50 yards down the highway from their lodging, going 30 to 35 miles per hour, Lewis said, when “I saw parts flying in front of me. My friend Dan was in front of me I saw his bike get hit by the trailer and just start to break apart in pieces and the next thing you know I got hit and I ended up flying over the trailer and landing in the road.”
“First thought was I went to wiggle my toes to make sure I could move. Then when I got up I turned and I saw my friend’s bike. And I started to scream his name, ‘where are you?’” Lewis said, pausing. “And I found him.”
The two were in the Marine Corps together for four years beginning in 1980 and had remained close friends ever since, going on numerous rides together: From twice-yearly trips to charity events to bringing home-cooked meals to paraplegics at the Jamaica Plain Veterans Affairs hospital every month. Then, the group of Jarheads, a group they had been in together for at least a decade, was slammed by a truck and trailer.
“I asked him not to leave; I asked him to stay with me . . .” said Lewis, a Brimfield, Mass., resident who survived the crash with scrapes, bruises, and a swollen hand.
“He was a family man. He loved his kids, he took care of his kids. And he also loved Marines and always went out of his way to help,” said Lewis in a phone call from the Pereira house, where he went after being discharged from the hospital.
“My best friend isn’t here,” said Lewis, his voice breaking. “I’m not going to see that smile. I’m not going to get any practical jokes pulled on me that he liked to do . . . Part of me is gone. And it’s a good part.”
Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord, N.H.
Desma Oakes, a 42-year-old mother of two boys, turned to helping others after she lost both her husband and her youngest son to cancer, said her father, Dan Cook, in an interview.
Oakes was riding on the same motorcycle with her boyfriend, Aaron Perry, a Marine Corps veteran, at the time of the crash.
“She wasn’t a person who just took, she was a person who gave and participated,” Cook said.
Unfortunately, Oakes was no stranger to grief. Her son, Ryan Jacob Oickle, was a toddler when he was diagnosed and given a grim prognosis. Oakes cared for him until the day he died in May 2009, when he was 4 1/2.
“He made it two and a half years, which was a blessing because we got to spend two and a half more years with him,” Cook said.
Three years later, on Christmas Day in 2012, her husband George A. Oickle died of small-cell carcinoma.
Between never-ending hospital visits, Oakes started giving back, her father said. She volunteered with Childhood Cancer Lifeline of New Hampshire, an organization that offers financial help to families dealing with childhood cancer. She also helped the organization with a camp for childhood cancer patients and their families.
”I think she liked being outdoors, I think she liked the freedom that goes with being away from everything,” Cook said.
Aaron Perry, 45, of Farmington, N.H.
Aaron Perry, a 45-year-old Marine Corps veteran, was riding with his girlfriend, Desma Oakes, at the time of the crash.
Jo-Ann and Edward Corr, both 58, of Lakeville, Mass.
Married couple Jo-Ann and Edward Corr, both 58, of Lakeville, Mass., were riding the same motorcycle during the crash, according to Deputy Attorney General Jane Young.
Michael Ferazzi, 62, of Contoocook, N.H.
Michael Ferazzi, 62, of Contoocook, N.H., was killed in the crash.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
Due to inaccurate information provided to the Globe, two first names were misspelled in an earlier version of this report.