'We all feel it': Bikers mourn 7 of their own killed on road

RANDOLPH, N.H. (AP) — Investigators pleaded Saturday for members of the public to come forward with information that could help them determine why a pickup truck hauling a trailer collided with a group of 10 motorcycles on a rural highway, killing seven bikers.

The crash in remote northern New Hampshire involved members of Marine JarHeads, a motorcycle club that includes Marines and their spouses, authorities said. The tragedy sent shockwaves through New England's communities of motorcyclists and military veterans, which often overlap.

"When something like this happens, we all feel it," said Cat Wilson, who organizes a motorcycle charity event in Massachusetts and is a friend of some of the crash victims. "There is no tighter community than our biker community."

Authorities identified the pickup driver as Volodoymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, an employee of a Springfield, Massachusetts, company called Westfield Transport.

Zhukovskyy survived the accident, did not need to be hospitalized and has not been charged, authorities said, but they didn't address details on his whereabouts. A phone listing for him couldn't be found.

Dartanyan Gasanov, the owner of Westfield Transport, told The Boston Globe that he planned to talk to investigators Monday and has been unable to reach Zhukovskyy, who has not been answering phone calls.

The National Transportation Safety Board is among the agencies investigating. Authorities asked for the public's help in the form of videos, photos or other information about the accident or the vehicles involved.

"This is one of the worst tragic incidents that we have investigated here in the state," New Hampshire State Police Col. Chris Wagner said at a Saturday news conference in nearby Lancaster. "It's going to be a very lengthy investigation."

A black 2016 Dodge 2500 pickup truck towing a flatbed trailer of the kind used to haul cars collided with the bikers around 6:30 p.m. Friday on U.S. 2, a two-lane highway in Randolph, police said. Randolph is about a two-hour drive north of Concord, the capital, and a three-hour drive from Boston.

Along with the seven dead, state police said, three people were taken to hospitals. Two of them were released Saturday. Police did not provide names of the injured or dead but said they could release the names of victims as early as Sunday.

The road reopened Saturday, when skid marks were still visible for several hundred feet on the road, which has mountains and fields full of wildflowers as a backdrop. Nothing was left of the broken motorcycles, but a patch of burned grass and tire marks in the mud remained.

For much the day, residents and bikers stopped by to pay respects. Some prayed, reminisced about their own close calls or planted American flags.

Bill Brown, a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran and motorcyclist, arrived at the scene near a gentle curve in the road to put down flags, calling the victims "brothers in arms," vowing to keep riding and expressing shock.

"Seven people. C'mon. It's senseless," he said. "Somebody made a mistake, and it turned out to be pretty deadly."

Down the road, over a dozen members of the Marine JarHeads gathered at a motel. Dressed in motorcycle jackets with "JarHeads" written on the back, they hugged one another and wept. Earlier in the day, they prayed with a pastor.

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U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Tim Chambers salutes as motorcyclists participate in the 32nd Rolling Thunder demonstration, Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Washington. The event is to honor American prisoners of war and service members missing in action, and to call attention to veterans' issues. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Motorcyclists participate in the 32nd Rolling Thunder demonstration in front of the Lincoln Memorial , Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Washington. The event is to honor American prisoners of war and service members missing in action, and to call attention to veterans' issues. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Karen Beck, from Mechanicsville, Md., a Vietnam War veteran, holds a flag as motorcyclists participate in the 32nd Rolling Thunder demonstration, Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Washington. The event is to honor American prisoners of war and service members missing in action, and to call attention to veterans' issues. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Boots are placed in the median as motorcyclists participate in the 32nd Rolling Thunder demonstration, Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Washington. The event is to honor American prisoners of war and service members missing in action, and to call attention to veterans' issues. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Motorcyclists ride past the Lincoln Memorial as they participate in the 32nd Rolling Thunder demonstration, Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Washington. The event is to honor American prisoners of war and service members missing in action, and to call attention to veterans' issues. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Chester Sims, from St. Augustine, Fla., helps direct motorcyclists as they participate in the 32nd Rolling Thunder demonstration, Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Washington. The event is to honor American prisoners of war and service members missing in action, and to call attention to veterans' issues. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Bruce Heilman, 92, left, from Richmond, Va., greets fellow U.S. Marine Corps veteran Curt Powell, from Alexandria, Va., as they watch motorcyclists participate in the 32nd Rolling Thunder demonstration, Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Washington. Heilman is a veteran of World War II and the battle of Okinawa. The event is to honor American prisoners of war and service members missing in action, and to call attention to veterans' issues. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Participants in the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally waves to the crowds as they ride past Arlington Memorial Bridge, during the annual Rolling Thunder parade, ahead of Memorial Day on Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Participants in the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally, ride past Arlington Memorial Bridge, during the annual Rolling Thunder parade, ahead of Memorial Day on Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Participants in the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally, ride past Arlington Memorial Bridge, during the annual Rolling Thunder parade, ahead of Memorial Day on Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
People hold up a sign as participants in the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally, ride past Arlington Memorial Bridge, during the annual Rolling Thunder parade, ahead of Memorial Day on Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Participants in the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally, ride past the Lincoln Memorial, as people wave to them, during the annual Rolling Thunder parade, ahead of Memorial Day on Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Participants in the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally, ride past Arlington Memorial Bridge, during the annual Rolling Thunder parade, ahead of Memorial Day on Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Motorcyclists ride on the Arlington Memorial Bridge during the 32nd Rolling Thunder demonstration, Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Washington. The event is to honor American prisoners of war and service members missing in action, and to call attention to veterans' issues. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Participants in the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally, ride past Arlington Memorial Bridge, during the annual Rolling Thunder parade, ahead of Memorial Day on Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
UNITED STATES - MAY 26: People hold up a sign as motorcyclists drive by as they participate in the 32nd Rolling Thunder in Washington on Sunday May 26, 2019. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MAY 26: Christopher Jacobs holds up a photograph of his father as motorcyclists ride by as they participate in the 32nd Rolling Thunder in Washington on Sunday May 26, 2019. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MAY 26: A motorcyclist hugs U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Tim Chambers, left, thanking him for his service as motorcyclists drive by as they participate in the 32nd Rolling Thunder in Washington on Sunday May 26, 2019. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MAY 26: John Magar from Rochester, N.Y. sits on his motorcycle watching the 32nd Rolling Thunder in Washington on Sunday May 26, 2019. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Tom Crable, from the Washington DC area, poses for a photo on the Pentagon parking before taking part in the "Rolling Thunder" motorcycle parade on May 26 in Arlington, next to Washington. Tom served in the Air Force and took part in 30 Rolling Thunder parades. - Thousands of bikers converged on the US capital for what is billed as their last national "Rolling Thunder" ride in honor of missing American soldiers on Memorial Day weekend. They got a boost from President Donald Trump himself, who tweeted Saturday that he would like to help maintain the event, which is bogged down in a dispute over costs. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 26: Motorcyclists ride past the Lincoln Memorial in the 32nd Rolling Thunder in Washington on Sunday May 26, 2019. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
A father takes his son wearing a Marine uniform to salute Marine Staff Sgt. Tim Chambers, "the saluting Marine", as they take part in the "Rolling thunder" parade, part of the Memorial weekend honouring war veterans in Washington, on May 26 2019. - Thousands of bikers converged on the US capital for what is billed as their last national "Rolling Thunder" ride in honor of missing American soldiers on Memorial Day weekend. They got a boost from President Donald Trump himself, who tweeted Saturday that he would like to help maintain the event, which is bogged down in a dispute over costs. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)
A couple waving US flags looks on as bikers take part in the "Rolling thunder" parade, part of the Memorial weekend honouring war veterans in Washington, on May 26 2019. - Thousands of bikers converged on the US capital for what is billed as their last national "Rolling Thunder" ride in honor of missing American soldiers on Memorial Day weekend. They got a boost from President Donald Trump himself, who tweeted Saturday that he would like to help maintain the event, which is bogged down in a dispute over costs. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)
A man looks on as bikers take part in the "Rolling thunder" parade, part of the Memorial weekend honouring war veterans in Washington, on May 26 2019. - Thousands of bikers converged on the US capital for what is billed as their last national "Rolling Thunder" ride in honor of missing American soldiers on Memorial Day weekend. They got a boost from President Donald Trump himself, who tweeted Saturday that he would like to help maintain the event, which is bogged down in a dispute over costs. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Boots symbolising fallen soldiers are displayed by the road as bikers take part in the "Rolling thunder" parade, part of the Memorial weekend honouring war veterans in Washington, on May 26 2019. - Thousands of bikers converged on the US capital for what is billed as their last national "Rolling Thunder" ride in honor of missing American soldiers on Memorial Day weekend. They got a boost from President Donald Trump himself, who tweeted Saturday that he would like to help maintain the event, which is bogged down in a dispute over costs. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)
A man wears a "Proud to be American" patch as hundreds of thousands of bikers gather on the Pentagon Parking before taking part in the "Rolling thunder" parade, part of the Memorial weekend honouring war veterans in Arlington, near Washington, on May 26 2019. - Thousands of bikers converged on the US capital for what is billed as their last national "Rolling Thunder" ride in honor of missing American soldiers on Memorial Day weekend. They got a boost from President Donald Trump himself, who tweeted Saturday that he would like to help maintain the event, which is bogged down in a dispute over costs. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)
A man wears a POW-MIA (prisoner of war - missing in action) tee-shirt as hundreds of thousands of bikers gather on the Pentagon Parking before taking part in the "Rolling thunder" parade, part of the Memorial weekend honoring war veterans in Arlington, near Washington, on May 26 2019. - Thousands of bikers converged on the US capital for what is billed as their last national "Rolling Thunder" ride in honor of missing American soldiers on Memorial Day weekend. They got a boost from President Donald Trump himself, who tweeted Saturday that he would like to help maintain the event, which is bogged down in a dispute over costs. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)
A biker wearing a tee-shirt saying "not our last ride" is seen as thousands gather on the Pentagon Parking before taking part in the "Rolling thunder" parade, part of the Memorial weekend honoring war veterans in Arlington , near Washington, on May 26 2019. - Thousands of bikers converged on the US capital for what is billed as their last national "Rolling Thunder" ride in honor of missing American soldiers on Memorial Day weekend. They got a boost from President Donald Trump himself, who tweeted Saturday that he would like to help maintain the event, which is bogged down in a dispute over costs. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Hundreds of thousands of bikers gather on the Pentagon parking before taking part in the "Rolling thunder" parade part of the Memorial weekend honoring war veterans in Arlington, near Washington, on May 26 2019. - Thousands of bikers converged on the US capital for what is billed as their last national "Rolling Thunder" ride in honor of missing American soldiers on Memorial Day weekend. They got a boost from President Donald Trump himself, who tweeted Saturday that he would like to help maintain the event, which is bogged down in a dispute over costs. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of the Motorcycle group American Legion Riders is waiting at the Washington National Cathedral to attend the "Blessing of the Bikes" on May 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. - The Rolling Thunder First Amendment Demonstration Run, a tradition since 1988, comes to an end this Memorial Day. Motorcycle riders from around the nation and the world will do one final bike ride throughout the US capital on May 26. The Rolling Thunder mission began as a demonstration following the Vietnam War, when many of Americas military were killed or missing in action (MIA) and their remains were not returned home or respectfully buried. With the first run in 1988, riders demanded that the US government account for all POW/MIAs. Over the years, Rolling Thunder has evolved into an emotional display of patriotism. (Photo by Eva HAMBACH / AFP) (Photo credit should read EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)
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Members of the motorcycle community are already organizing help for the victims' families, Wilson said.

A small memorial was held at a church in nearby Berlin on Saturday evening.

On Friday, witnesses described a "devastating" scene as bystanders tried to help riders lying in the road. Broke motorcycles and the bodies of riders littered the highway and the pickup sent off the road and burst into flames.

"There was debris everywhere," said Miranda Thompson, 21, of Manchester, who was several cars back and recalled seeing a truck in flames on the side of the highway and six motorcycles.

 

"People were in the grass," she said. "There were people putting tourniquets on people, trying to make sure they didn't move."

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Whittle reported from Portland, Maine. Associated Press writer David Sharp in Portland contributed.

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This story has been updated to correct that three others were taken to hospitals, not two.

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