Volodymyr Zhukovskyy waived arraignment Tuesday on seven counts of negligent homicide for his alleged role in a crash that killed seven people Friday on a New Hampshire highway. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.
Here are some key facts we know about Zhukovskyy, 23, and the case pending against the West Springfield resident.
1] The crash — Zhukovskyy was driving a truck with a trailer attached for Westfield Transport when his vehicle collided head-on with motorcyclists Friday evening on Route 2 in Randolph, N.H., killing seven people.
Legal filings in the case allege that Zhukovskyy “negligently caused” the deaths by driving a “2016 Dodge 2500 pickup truck and attached trailer ... erratically and across the double-yellow center line and colliding” with the motorcycles.
He was ordered held in “preventive detention” Tuesday, on the grounds that his “criminal and driving history exhibit a pattern of operating a motor vehicle in a dangerous manner,” a bail order says. “If released, he will likely present a danger to the safety of defendant or the public.”
2] The defendant’s prior record — Zhukovskyy’s checkered driving record began at age 16, when, according to court records, police in West Springfield found him and another man in a car crashed into heavy brush. Zhukovskyy was charged with driving without a license, speeding, and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
He was arrested in June 2013 for drunken driving in Westfield, his record says. He was sentenced in that case to a year of probation, and his license was suspended for 210 days, the Westfield News reported. There were no fatalities in that case.
Zhukovskyy also was cited for a lane infraction in February. His second drunken driving arrest, in May of this year, occurred in East Windsor, Conn., and was still pending at the time of the New Hampshire crash, according to legal filings. His next hearing in that case was scheduled for Wednesday.
His lawyer from the Connecticut drunken driving case told the Associated Press that his client denied being intoxicated while driving last month. Prosecutors said Zhukovskyy failed a sobriety test at the scene, according to the AP.
A review of his record showed Zhukovskyy also had other infractions: He was cited for an equipment violation in 2013; he also received a 90-day suspended jail sentence in Connecticut for a 2015 case of larceny, records show. The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, Conn., reported that Zhukovskyy told police in that case that he and another person stole ladders and windows from a Home Depot warehouse.
In January 2017, an employee at a gas station in West Springfield picked up Zhukovskyy’s lost wallet and found cocaine and heroin inside, court records show. Zhukovskyy pleaded guilty to possession of the two drugs and was ordered to pay a $200 fine.
The Zhukovskyy family is originally from Ukraine and has lived in the United States for about 13 years.
3] The company — Zhukovskyy had begun working for Westfield Transport three days before the crash, according to the company’s owner, Dartanyan Gasanov. Zhukovskyy had gotten his commercial driving license less than a year ago, according to Zhukovskyy’s brother-in-law.
Online records for the US Department of Transportation dating back two years show that the company hasn’t had any prior crashes resulting in injuries or death during that period.
However, 21 out of 45 inspections in that period turned up various safety violations, according to a DOT database. In March of 2018, a driver was cited for having “Drugs/Alcohol” in the vehicle, and a company truck had an “inadequate break system,” the database says.
The data also comes with this disclaimer: “Readers should not draw conclusions about a carrier’s overall safety condition simply based on the data displayed in this system. Unless a motor carrier has received an UNSATISFACTORY safety rating ... or has otherwise been ordered to discontinue operations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, it is authorized to operate on the Nation’s roadways.”
The database on Tuesday listed Westfield Transport’s safety rating as “None.”
4] The victims — Officials have identified the deceased as Jo-Ann and Edward Corr, both 58, of Lakeville; Michael Ferazzi, 62, of Contoocook, N.H.; Albert Mazza, 59, of Lee, N.H.; Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, R.I.; Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord, N.H.; and Aaron Perry, 45, of Farmington, N.H.
The crash involved members of Jarheads MC, a motorcycle club comprising Marine Corps veterans and close friends from across New England.
New Hampshire Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jennie Duval determined that all seven victims died of blunt force trauma.
A GoFundMe page set up for the victims’ families had raised more than $408,000 as of Tuesday morning.