Driver pleads not guilty in motorcycle crash that killed 7

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CONCORD, New Hampshire (AP) — A pickup truck driver accused of colliding with a group of motorcyclists, killing seven of them, pleaded not guilty through his lawyer Tuesday to negligent homicide.

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, was ordered to remain in prevention detention, with a judge citing his past driving record, saying it poses a potential danger to the public and himself.

Zhukovskyy earlier waived his right to arraignment, authorities said. The plea was entered by his attorney Melissa Davis in Coos County Court in Lancaster, New Hampshire. Zhukovskyy remains behind bars there.

A jury trial has been scheduled to begin in November.

The truck Zhukovskyy was driving was towing a flatbed trailer and collided with the motorcycles in Randolph, investigators say. He was driving erratically and crossed the center line, according to criminal complaints released Tuesday.

Zhukovskyy was arrested Monday morning at his home in Massachusetts and handed over to New Hampshire authorities after a court appearance that day.

Records show Zhukovskyy, who was working for a Massachusetts transport company at the time of the crash, has been stopped twice on suspicion of drunken driving in the past seven years.

Connecticut prosecutors say he was arrested May 11 in a Walmart parking lot in East Windsor Walmart after failing a sobriety test. Zhukovskyy’s lawyer in that case, John O’Brien, said he denies being intoxicated and will fight the charge.

Additionally, Zhukovskyy was arrested on a drunken driving charge in 2013 in Westfield, Massachusetts, state records show. He was placed on probation for one year and had his license suspended for 210 days, The Westfield News reported.

Records from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicate that the company Zhukovskyy was driving for at the time of the motorcycle crash, Westfield Transport, has been cited for various violations in the past two years, MassLive.com reported.

Phones rang unanswered at the company.

The victims were 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. Four were from New Hampshire, two from Massachusetts and one from Rhode Island.

Members of the group and relatives of the victims have welcomed the charges against Zhukovskyy but said it would do little to ease their pain.

Relatives of Zhukovskyy said they were also suffering and defended him as a good person who didn’t intentionally kill the motorcyclists. They said he was on his way back to Massachusetts from dropping of a shipment of cars and appeared happy to be heading home.

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