On July 21st, on a rural highway in Randolph, New Hampshire, something terrible happened.
Volodymyr Zhukovskyy — of West Springfield, Massachusetts — crossed over the yellow center line of U.S. Route 2 and hit a group of motorcyclists.
Tragically, he struck and killed seven members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, an organization for Marines and their spouses.
Three others were injured. Volodymyr was not.
Now new information’s come to light, making Volodymyr’s part in the tragedy more egregious.
Court proceedings have revealed the Westfield Transport truck driver was reaching for a beverage just before the accident. But what may have substantially aided in the catastrophe was the fact that he, according to The Boston Globe, was on drugs:
Zhukovskyy, of West Springfield, tested positive after the June 21 collision for an unspecified drug that rendered him incapable of driving safely, federal regulators found. The report does not specify the drug beyond saying it was a narcotic or amphetamine.
And what was Volodymyr doing driving in the first place? He had arrest records involving both drug charges and traffic incidents across 6 states.
Zhukovskyy was involved in a June 3 rollover crash in Baytown, Texas, near Houston. He was driving a truck hauling five cars on Interstate 10 when he flipped the rig onto its side.
[I]n Baytown, Texas, police on Feb. 11 responded to a 2 a.m. call of a disorderly customer at a Denny’s restaurant. In video captured by a body-worn police camera released this week, Zhukovskyy is in constant motion and wailing his arms.
“I’m sorry guys. I’m just tired,” Zhukovskyy says. “I need to go to sleep.”
Police asked whether he was on drugs. He denied being on drugs but police arrested him for possession of drug paraphernalia after they found a drug pipe on him.
Zhukovskyy’s most recent arrest – which should have caused his commercial driver’s licnsed to be taken away – occurred on May 11 in East Lindsor, Connecticut, after he failed a sobriety test.
During that arrest, Zhukovskyy made “suicidal comments” and exhibited “extreme behavior,” according to a report filed by East Windsor police, prompting them to send him to a Hartford hospital for treatment. He was released on a $2,500 non-surety bond.
Back to my question:
The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has admitted his license should have been revoked following a drunken-driving incident last month in Connecticut…
Amid the controversy, the RMV’s top official has stepped down.
More from the Globe:
“The RMV’s failures are totally unacceptable and the administration hopes that the families who lost loved ones in this terrible tragedy can begin to find some solace as justice is sought in this case,” said Patrick Marvin, a MassDOT spokesman.
What a fiasco.
Though Volodymyr became a permanent U.S. resident in 2008, his criminal history puts him in violation of that status.
As reported by Boston’s CBS 4:
He is being held in a jail in Lancaster, New Hampshire. The Department of Homeland Security issued an immigration detainer on Zhukovskyy June 23, which means he could be deported back to the Ukraine if he’s released from police custody.
To me, 23 seems young for a truck driver. That’s a lot of size and weight to be herding down the freeway at 70 mph. But maybe I’m wrong. Either way, given his condition and record, the fact that Volodymyr Zhukovskyy was behind the wheel of anything more powerful than a unicycle is inexplicable. And now, over half a dozen families will never be the same.
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