Defense lawyer in death of 7 motorcyclists: Biker at fault

National

FILE – In this June 24, 2019, file photo, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, of West Springfield, Mass., stands during his arraignment in district court in Springfield, Mass. Zhukovskyy, is charged in the deaths of seven motorcyclists in a fiery June 21 collision on a rural highway in Randolph, N.H. A trial is scheduled for November 2020. A defense motion seeking a bail hearing, filed Friday, March 27, 2020 and made public Tuesday, March 31, said the state recently disclosed a report from an independent accident reconstruction firm, which shows the state police initial assessment “was deeply flawed.” (Don Treeger/The Republican via AP, Pool, File)

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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — One of the motorcyclists in a crash that killed him and six fellow bikers on a north woods highway was drunk and actually was the one who hit a pickup and caused the accident, the lawyer for the truck driver charged with homicide said in a document made public Tuesday.

A New Hampshire State Police account of the June 21 crash in the community of Randolph “was deeply flawed,” the lawyer for truck driver Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 24, of West Springfield, Massachusetts, said in a motion filed Friday that seeks a hearing to set him free on bail.

State police initially determined that the flatbed trailer he was hauling was 1 1/2 feet over the center line at the time of impact, the motion said. But the state recently disclosed a report from an independent accident reconstruction firm that challenges that assessment, according to the motion filed by defense lawyer Jay Duguay.

Zhukovskyy’s vehicle was traveling west and the motorcyclists were traveling east on the two-lane road. Crash Labs “determined that the impact occurred directly over the center line” and that the motorcycle driven by Albert “Woody” Mazza Jr. “was in fact protruding over onto the center line when it struck the truck,” according to the motion.

The initial impact occurred between the left side of Mazza’s motorcycle and the left front tire of Zhukovskyy’s truck, it said.

The report goes on to say that “the impact caused catastrophic air loss to the left front tire of the truck, which left a tire mark on the center line of the road,” Duguay says in his motion. “This tire mark had initially been attributed to an ‘unsuccessful avoidance maneuver’ by Mr. Mazza, a position that the State has since retracted.”

Prosecutors have an April 10 deadline to respond. The court will then determine whether a hearing on the motion will be scheduled.

“We are in receipt of the pleading that was filed on Friday evening and the State will be filing a written objection with the court,” Kate Spiner, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said in a statement.

The motion notes the state also provided information showing that Mazza had been turned around looking back at the group of riders behind him just before the accident and that autopsy reports show that at the time of the crash, Mazza’s blood-alcohol level was 0.135%, well above the legal limit of 0.08%.

Duguay requested the hearing so Zhukovskyy might be freed on bail, “given the dramatically different factual circumstances as they are known at this time.”

Mazza, 59, of Lee, and the six others who died were members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, a New England group that includes Marines and their spouses. The victims were from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Mazza’s common-law wife had sued the trucking company employing Zhukovskyy, saying it negligently hired him despite a troubled driving record.

Her attorney, Chuck Douglas, said he had not seen the Crash Labs report and couldn’t comment on the bail motion.

Zhukovskyy is accused of driving under the influence of a controlled drug or drugs. In August, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said that a toxicology report showed Zhukovskyy tested positive for an unspecified drug that made him incapable of driving safely.

Zhukovskyy was indicted last year on multiple counts of negligent homicide and DUI. He has been in jail since and pleaded not guilty. Jury selection for his trial is scheduled for November.

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