Two survivors of Friday's crash that killed seven members of a local motorcycle club are recalling the chaos that came after the horrific New Hampshire crash.
Manny Ribeiro, president of the Massachusetts chapter of Marine JarHeads, and his wife, Valerie, were both riding in the front of the pack when they heard an explosion. They said they tried to help save their friends by using their belts as tourniquets. Manny Ribeiro, a Marine Corps veteran, said the crash was worse than anything he had seen during combat.
"It was like nothing I'd ever seen in my life. It was awful," he said. "I never saw the truck. I just heard and explosion and saw parts flying."
The victims of the wreck Friday evening were all members or supporters of the Marine JarHeads — a New England motorcycle club that includes Marines and their spouses — and ranged in age from 42 to 62.
"We're like a family. They're not just a bunch of guys on bikes. I'm just at a loss," Valerie Ribeiro said.
A pickup truck towing a flatbed trailer collided with a group of 10 motorcycles on a two-lane highway in the small town of Randolph, leaving victims strewn on the grass amid their shattered bikes. The cause of the crash was under investigation, and no immediate charges were filed.
Authorities identified the dead as Michael Ferazzi, 62, of Contoocook, New Hampshire; Albert Mazza Jr., 59, of Lee, New Hampshire; Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord, New Hampshire; Aaron Perry, 45, of Farmington, New Hampshire; Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, Rhode Island; and Jo-Ann and Edward Corr, both 58, of Lakeville, Massachusetts.
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One person injured in the wreck remained hospitalized in stable condition.
Relatives of all but one of the victims could not be reached for comment or their numbers were not listed. The state attorney general's office said the Ferazzi family had asked that reporters not contact them.
Mazza's family described the former Marine and father of two as a quiet self-starter who fell in love with motorcycles at an early age and always seemed to best anyone he competed against. When he got out of the Marines, he worked in the defense industry and then the construction business. Along with bikes, relatives said Mazza was passionate about judo and hunting when he was growing up. In the past two decades, his father said he had very little contact with his son partly because he lives in Kenly, North Carolina.
"He was a young man who could do anything. I competed in all kinds of things in my life ... and everything he tried to do, he beat me in," Albert Mazza Sr. said. "He was a natural at everything ... He was a tough, young guy who didn't know how to quit...I was always proud of him and I always bragged on him because I knew he was a better man than I was."
Joseph Mazza, the victim's uncle who lives in Haverhill, Massachusetts, said he was still dealing with the accident and trying to comprehend how so many bikers died in one accident.
"The truck was coming in the opposite direction. It's hard to figure how he could hit 10 motorcycles without getting out of the way," Joseph Mazza said. "Right now, the details are very vague. I'm very confused...I need more information."
The flags were at half-staff outside the VFW post in Middleboro, Massachusetts, where Jo-Ann and Edward Corr were both regulars. Those who knew the couple from Lakeville said they were constantly giving back by hosting fundraisers and attending events to support veterans.
"There cannot be another couple that can be equal to Eddie and Jo-Ann," Gerard Milch, commander of the Middleboro VFW, said. "I'm just struck with sadness."
The Whitman VFW is planning a fundraiser and vigil Wednesday night in honor of the victims and their families.
The tragedy left the close-knit motorcycle community in shock, with many remembering their own close calls on the road.
"Seven people. Come on. It's senseless," said Bill Brown, a 73-year-old Vietnam War veteran and motorcyclist who visited the accident scene Saturday to plant flags. "Somebody made a mistake, and it turned out to be pretty deadly."
The pickup driver, Volodoymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, an employee of a Springfield, Massachusetts, trucking company, was not seriously hurt. The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating, said he was interviewed at the scene by police and allowed to return to Massachusetts.
Zhukovskyy was arrested Monday morning at his home and is facing seven counts of negligent homicide.