NATIONAL NEWS

New Hampshire refuses to reinstate license of trucker acquitted in deadly crash

May 30, 2024, 2:02 PM

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire safety officials on Thursday upheld the license suspension of a commercial truck driver who was acquitted in the 2019 deaths of seven motorcyclists but said another hearing will be held to determine how long the suspension will last.

A jury in 2022 found Volodymyr Zhukovskyy not guilty of multiple manslaughter and negligent homicide counts stemming from the June 21, 2019, collision in Randolph that killed seven members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, an organization of Marine Corps veterans and their spouses in New England.

Zhukovskyy’s Massachusetts license was automatically suspended in New Hampshire after his arrest following the crash, but he sought to get it reinstated at a hearing earlier this month.

In an order Thursday, an administrative law judge for the Department of Safety said Zhukovskyy is subject to a state law that allows his license to be suspended for up to seven years and that a dispositional hearing will be scheduled later.

“The evidence clearly supports a finding that the respondent operated his truck and trailer in a negligent matter which was unlawful and caused or materially contributed to the accident,” wrote Ryan McFarland.

At his trial, prosecutors argued that Zhukovskyy — who had taken heroin, fentanyl and cocaine the day of the crash — repeatedly swerved back and forth before the collision and told police he caused it. But a judge dismissed eight impairment charges and his attorneys said the lead biker was drunk and not looking where he was going when he lost control of his motorcycle and slid in front of Zhukovskyy’s truck, which was pulling an empty flatbed trailer.

Zhukovskyy’s trial lawyers also said there was no evidence he was impaired at the time of the crash and that police did not make any observations in the hours afterward suggesting he was.

At the time, Zhukovskyy’s license should have been revoked because he had been arrested in Connecticut on a drunken driving charge in May 2019. Connecticut officials alerted the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, but Zhukovskyy’s license wasn’t suspended due to a backlog of out-of-state notifications about driving offenses. The Connecticut case is pending.

Zhukovskyy, who came to the U.S. as a child from Ukraine and had permanent residency status, was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after the 2022 verdict. A judge ordered his deportation last year, but the U.S. has paused repatriation flights to Ukraine due to the war with Russia and authorized Temporary Protected Status for qualified Ukrainians.

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New Hampshire refuses to reinstate license of trucker acquitted in deadly crash