New Hampshire

‘A Lot of Blame to Go Around': Crash Survivor Says RMV Head's Resignation Not Enough

One of the survivors of the horrific crash that killed seven motorcyclists last week in New Hampshire says the resignation of the Massachusetts registrar of motor vehicles is not enough.

"Seven of them gone in one swoop, one foolish, preventable accident. There's  a lot of blame to go around and I think a lot of people need to start talking," said Manny Ribeiro, president of the Massachusetts chapter of Marine JarHeads.

Ribeiro and his wife Valerie were both riding in the front of the pack of motorcyclists on the evening of June 21 in Randolph, New Hampshire, when the crash occurred. The victims were all members or supporters of Marine JarHeads, a New England motorcycle club made up of Marines and their spouses. They ranged in age from 42 to 62.

Vlodymyr Zhukovskyy, a 23-year-old from West Springfield, Massachusetts, is charged with seven counts of negligent homicide after allegedly crashing his pickup truck into the group of motorcyclists. He was reportedly driving erratically before crossing the double-yellow center line and hitting 10 motorcycles.

In the wake of the crash, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that Registrar of Motor Vehicles Erin Deveney had resigned after her department failed to act on information provided by the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles about a May 11 OUI offense involving Zhukovskyy that should have triggered termination of his commercial driver's license.

But Ribeiro said Wednesday that is not enough.

"Resigning is not really the answer, is it? Resigning is only just walking away from the problem," he said.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack has promised an in-depth review, while placing the blame squarely on the Connecticut DMV for "failing to provide sufficient information" about the OUI offense involving Zhukovskyy that would have automatically terminated his license.

Instead, Connecticut sent an online communication May 28 that was flagged in Massachusetts for a manual review that never happened.

"I think there were major mistakes made by the Massachusetts RMV," criminal defense attorney Patrick Donovan said. "They were notified and did nothing. There was a manual review that was never done, whether or not it's a backlog or a lack of resources or whatever it is, it's still not good enough. It was a major systematic failure."

Massachusetts is just one of five states that is not included in the nationwide "Driver License Compact," in which information like this is shared.

The Connecticut DMV and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

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