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Survivor recounts harrowing N.H. motorcycle crash in first public remarks

Joshua Morin, resting in his Dalton home, has had 20 surgeries on his left leg since the accident in June and expects to need more.Erin Clark for the Boston Globe

DALTON — The Jarheads Motorcycle Club rode through New Hampshire late last June in a staggered formation, just as it always does.

The group’s president, Albert “Woody” Mazza Jr., was out front, followed by Manny Ribeiro, and flanked by Joshua Morin, a nurse from the Berkshires who brought his wife to the weekend gathering. A dozen other motorcycles trailed them.

They were all pals, a group of former Marines and their family members, heading to a fund-raiser at an American Legion post in Gorham, N.H.

As the pack headed east at about 6:30 p.m., a 2016 Dodge pickup truck towing a flatbed trailer in the opposite direction crossed the highway’s double yellow line, authorities said, and veered into the Jarheads’ path.


“I saw the truck hit Woody and just push right through to me,” said Morin, 45, in an interview on Thursday at his home in Dalton, where he’s recovering from a broken pelvis, thigh, and other injuries he received in the June 21 crash that killed seven.

The crash not only shattered lives, it led to cascading revelations about the spotty driving history of the 23-year-old truck driver and later, a full-blown scandal at the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, which failed to heed warnings and suspend his commercial license.

The account from Morin, the most gravely injured survivor, is his first public remarks about the collision, and it offers a harrowing reconstruction of the tragedy and his own miraculous tale of survival.

The collision had snapped his left femur. Morin lay sprawled on the side of the highway, blood gushing and bone jabbing through his jeans.

He said he held on for 48 minutes until rescuers arrived. Ribeiro wrapped Morin’s leg with a strap to contain the bleeding after two other makeshift tourniquets failed. A woman who said she was a neurologist and a man staying at a cabin nearby kept him company until rescuers arrived, Morin recalled. His wife, Joy, tried to reach him, but Morin said she was held back.


Joshua Morin.Erin Clark for the Boston Globe

Today, Morin said, he is trying to come to terms with his survival.

“I’m trying to develop a relationship with the Man that saved my life, God or whoever you want to call it, but somebody more than me,” said Morin.

He said he watched the oncoming truck plow into his friend, 59-year-old Mazza, launching his motorcycle and body into the air.

His bike went flying. His body went flying. I got hit by the truck right after that. He pushed everything into me and then he hit me and I went flying,” said Morin, who was rooming with Mazza.

He knew instantly Mazza was dead. Six others were killed: Daniel Pereira, 58; Aaron Perry, 45, and his girlfriend, Desma Oakes, 42; a married couple, Jo-Ann and Edward Corr, who were 58 years old, and Michael Ferazzi, 62.

The truck driver, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy of West Springfield, has been charged with seven counts of negligent homicide and has pleaded not guilty. His criminal defense lawyers didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In the fallout from the crash, the Registry acknowledged it had failed to suspend Zhukovskyy’s commercial license weeks before the collision when he refused a chemical breath test in Connecticut. The revelation laid bare decades of failings at the agency, which had been ignoring alerts from other states about Massachusetts residents who broke their traffic laws.


Tattoos covered the arms of Joshua Morin.Erin Clark for the Boston Globe

The Morins have sued Zhukovskyy and his employer, Westfield Transport , which ceased operations shortly after the crash. A lawyer for the company declined to comment Friday and the owner, Dartanyan Gasanov, didn’t respond to messages.

A fund-raiser is planned on Nov. 3 at the Polish Falcons of America Nest 580 in Pittsfield to help Morin and his wife make ends meet during his recovery.

An emergency department nurse, Morin said he took charge during the ambulance ride to the hospital.

Rescuers struggled to start an IV because Morin had lost so much blood. He told them to do an intraosseous infusion: drill into his leg to deliver fluids and medication to the bone marrow.

“It was crazy,” Morin said. “I was like, ‘Just drill me.’ ”

Joshua Morin has undergone 20 surgeries on his left leg so far and expects more to come.Erin Clark for the Boston Globe

He briefly stopped at a hospital in New Hampshire and then was flown to Maine Medical Center in Portland.

In addition to the broke femur, he had a separated shoulder, dislocated hand and kneecap, and a broken finger and pelvis. His tibia and fibula were fractured and bones broke in his foot. He has undergone 20 surgeries on his left leg so far and expects more to come. The black helmet that saved his life is on display at his home.

The black helmet that saved his life is on display at his home.Erin Clark for the Boston Globe

Unble to work since the crash, he must use a walker to move around and a gripper tool to grab items.


Morin’s fellow Jarhead member, Ribeiro, said the crash has forced the motorcycle club to prioritize taking care of their own — a tough adjustment for an organization established to help others.

“We all have a passion to help other people,” he said. “Instead now we’re trying to help ourselves. It kind of flies in the face of what we do.”

Earlier this month, Morin heard from the Registry for the first time since the crash. His doctor had filled out an application for Morin to get a disabled parking placard, but erroneously checked a box indicating his driving skills needed testing. In an Oct. 11 letter, the Registry told Morin he needed to schedule a road test.

A letter from the RMV sat on Joshua Morin’s coffee table.Erin Clark for the Boston Globe

On Friday, the Globe asked the Registry about the letter, prompting the agency to contact Morin’s doctor and clear the error.

Attorney Samuel M. Radner, who represents the Morins, said he was struck by how quickly the Registry sent a notice about the road test.

“They’re the people who wouldn’t suspend Zhukovskyy’s license,” he said.

Morin said he doesn’t spend much time thinking about Zhukovskyy or the Registry scandal, but does long for his motorcycle, which Mazza helped him find during a trip to St. Augustine, Fla. in 2014.

The bike was totaled in the crash. Morin dreams of returning to the road on two wheels or maybe a trike.

He has mapped the 50-mile journey through the farms and mountains of the Berkshires.

North to Williamstown, east to North Adams, then south and home to Dalton.


Joshua Morin walked into the living room.Erin Clark for the Boston Globe

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.