Deadly biker crash in New Hampshire prompts motor-vehicle chief in Massachusetts to resign
The head of the Massachusetts motor vehicle division resigned from her reported six-figure-salary gig Tuesday after her agency failed to terminate the commercial driving license of a man accused of colliding with a group of motorcyclists on a rural New Hampshire road last week, leaving seven bikers dead.
The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicle’s Erin Deveney offered her resignation just hours after the alleged driver involved in the horrific crash pleaded not guilty to seven counts of negligent homicide in the Friday motorcycle tragedy in Randolph, N.H., the Boston Herald reported.
Erin Deveney, head of the motor vehicle division in Massachusetts, speaks to reporters April 29, 2014, when she was interim head of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. (Associated Press)
Deveney's agency had failed to act on information received in May from the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles about a drunken driving arrest involving the 23-year-old suspect, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack said in a statement.
Pollack said the previous arrest should have cost Zhukovskyy his commercial driving license. As a result, she accepted the resignation of Deveney, whose salary was reportedly $143,800 a year, according to the Herald.
Court documents allege Zhukovskyy, a Ukranian national with permanent residence status in the U.S., was driving erratically and crossed the center line around 6:30 p.m. Friday on Highway 2, a two-lane roadway that passes through the small town just north of Mount Washington. His Dodge pickup truck was towing a flatbed trailer when it plowed into the bikers. All of the victims were members or supporters of the Marine JarHeads, a New England motorcycle club that includes Marines and their spouses. Those killed ranged in age from 42 to 62.
New Hampshire State Police said a 2016 Dodge 2500 pickup truck collided with the riders on U.S. 2 Friday evening. The cause of the deadly collision is not yet known. The pickup truck was on fire when emergency crews arrived.
Manny Ribeiro, who survived the crash, said Deveney’s resignation was just one indication that the crash could have been prevented. But Ribeiro said it also felt "like someone was running around from the problem."
"We just get to quit and walk away and that's it," Ribeiro told the Associated Press. "Story over. See you later until the next time it happens and then the next person steps down. This is what happens every single time."
The horrific crash in New Hampshire killed seven people, including a married couple.
Former Massachusetts Department of Transportation Chief Operating Officer Jamey Tesler will assume the role of acting registrar in order to conduct an in-depth review of the registry’s state-to-state data sharing system to “ensure the RMV acts as quickly as possible on any information shared by other states,” Pollack told the Herald.
Zhukovskyy was previously arrested May 11 in a Walmart parking lot in East Windsor, Conn., after allegedly failing a sobriety test. His license was not revoked after that arrest, but in 2013 his license was taken away for 210 days and he was placed on probation following a drunken driving charge in Westfield, Mass.
Police in Texas told several media outlets that Zhukovskyy also crashed a tractor-trailer in suburban Houston earlier this month. Zhukovskyy told police that he had been cut off, causing him to lose control of the truck. He was not charged.
Fox News’ Greg Norman, Sam Chamberlain and The Associated Press contributed to this report.