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Truck driver who took drugs day of crash acquitted of killing 7 motorcyclists

A commercial truck driver who took drugs on the same day he was part of a grisly New Hampshire crash that killed seven motorcyclists was acquitted Tuesday on all charges.

Driver Volodymyr Zhukovskyy told police at the time he caused the accident, but jurors in less than three hours found him not guilty of seven counts each of manslaughter and negligent homicide, as well as one count of reckless conduct.

Zhukovskyy, 26, had been in jail since the June 21, 2019 crash where he continuously swerved back and forth leading up to the head-on collision.

The Massachusetts resident cried as the verdict was read and pointed toward the sky as he left the Coos County courtroom.

“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. Our trial team did an excellent job and we firmly believe that the State proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella said in a statement.

The father of one of the victims was stunned by the verdict.

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, of West Springfield, Mass., reacts to the not-guilty verdict at Coos County Superior Court in Lancaster, New Hampshire Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022.

“Killing seven people and he gets off. That is unbelievable,” said Albert Mazza whose son Albert “Woody” Mazza Jr. died in the crash.

“It doesn’t make much sense,” the heart-stricken dad added. “There are seven people dead. There are seven families affected. It’s strange that he didn’t get something.”

But the defense team actually pointed the finger at Mazza Jr., saying he was drunk at the time of the crash. Lawyers for Zhukovskyy also argued Mazza wasn’t looking when he lost control of his motorcycle and slid in front of the truck.

The judge previously tossed eight charges connected to whether Zhukovskyy was impaired at the time of the crash.

The family of Zhukonskyy, who was born in Ukraine, was grateful for the “honest and fair trial.”

“Our family expresses its deepest condolences to the family and friends affected by this tragedy,” they said, adding he was “very honest and kind man. He would never have done anything to hurt anyone.”

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued an immigration detainer on Zhukovskyy following the crash, which was executed after the verdict, said Coos County Corrections Department official.

He was served papers to appear before an immigration judge and will remain in ICE custody before the hearing, ICE said.

Zhukovskyy’s commercial driving license was supposed to be revoked in Massachusetts when the crash occurred because of a drunken driving arrest in Connecticut two months beforehand.

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy looks back at the gallery before closing statements started at his trial at Coos County Superior Court in Lancaster on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022.
Volodymyr Zhukovskyy looks back at the gallery before closing statements started at his trial.

But it wasn’t suspended due to a backlog of cases.

The killed motorcyclists, part of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, were from New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts and ranged from ages of 42 to 62.

Victims Mazza, couple Edward and Jo-Ann Corr, Michael Ferazzi, Desma Oakes, Daniel Pereira, and Aaron Perry were traveling in a larger group at the time of the crash.

Defense attorney Jay Duguay argued authorities ignored their own accident reconstruction unit that contradicted the assertion that Zhukovskyy crossed into the oncoming lane. He also mentioned inconsistencies from witnesses.

Prosecutor Scott Chase acknowledged the inconsistencies but noted witnesses on the stand were talking about “some of the most unimaginable chaos, trauma, death and carnage that we can even imagine three years later.”

He also argued Zhukovskyy continued to swerve “until he killed people.”

With Post wires

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