Federal Agency Joins Investigation Into Fiery NH Crash That Killed 7
Authorities in New Hampshire say seven people have been killed in a crash between a pickup truck and several motorcycles on a rural highway
The National Transportation Safety Board is joining the investigation into a crash involving several motorcycles and a pickup truck that killed seven people and injured three others in New Hampshire on Friday.
The fiery crash on U.S. 2 in Randolph sent onlookers rushing to treat and help the injured motorists peppered along the road.
New Hampshire State Police said a 2016 Dodge 2500 pickup truck collided with 10 motorcycle riders, killing seven Friday evening. The pickup truck was on fire when emergency crews arrived.
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The driver of the pickup truck was the sole occupant of the vehicle and was hauling an attached trailer at the time of the crash. The driver was identified as Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, a 23-year-old male from West Springfield, Massachusetts.
The federal agency says it's coordinating its safety investigation with local authorities, who are doing their own investigation on the crash.
Witnesses described a "devastating" scene as bystanders tried to help riders that were peppered along the highway.
"It looked like a devastating war zone when I got to the accident," Jerry Hamanne, the owner of a nearby bed and breakfast, told NBC 10 Boston. He and a doctor also staying at his inn went to the scene to help.
"People were crying and screaming and then the truck exploded and everyone backed away because we didn't know what else was going to happen,"said Hamanne.
The crash happened about 500 feet from lodging where most of the motorcyclists were staying, Hamanne said.
Along with the seven dead, state police said two additional people were transported to the Androscoggin Valley Hospital and one was airlifted to Maine Medical.
At a press conference Saturday afternoon, officials said the victims were transported to the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Concord, New Hampshire, where autopsies are still being conducted.
Officials will not release the names of the victims at this time, but will likely release their identities Sunday, pending family notification.
"It's tragic," New Hampshire State Police Capt. Chris Vetter told reporters during a late Friday news conference. "It's tragic for those involved, tragic for the families, so we're doing our job, we're doing our work and our thoughts are with the people who were adversely affected by this."
Parts of the rural two-lane highway were closed Friday evening, state police said, as investigators combed the scene for clues about what caused the crash. A photo showed motorcycles and wreckage scattered across the highway and a truck on the shoulder in flames. The road reopened Saturday.
Randolph is about a two-hour drive north of Concord, the capital, and a three-hour drive from Boston.
"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. There were people putting tourniquets on people, trying to make sure they didn't move," she said. "You could tell people were lost who it happened too ... It was a sad day for all of them."
Charlie St. Clair, executive director of Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, which hosts one of the state's biggest rallies in June, said he couldn't recall an accident of this magnitude involving bikers in the state. He wasn't on the scene but said had been fielding calls about the accident much of the night. St. Clair said he heard the riders were mostly Marine veterans who belonged to the same motorcycle club.
"This is staggering and it's tragic beyond description," St. Clair said. "You have a bunch of people out for a ride enjoying one of the first nice days we had. To have this happen, it defies logic quite frankly."
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said during Saturday’s press conference that they are offering resources to families to provide closure.
"We want to ask everyone to lend their prayers to the victims and their families," the governor said.
No arrests have been made or charges filed at this time, but officials are asking the public for assistance with any information about the crash.