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Connecticut DUI Charge Preceded Fatal New Hampshire Crash

Don Treeger
/
The Republican via AP, Pool
Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, of West Springfield, is escorted into the courtroom for his arraignment in Springfield District Court, Monday, June 24, 2019, in Springfield, Mass. Zhukovskyy, the driver of a truck in a fiery collision on a rural New Hampshire h

The man who’s accused of killing seven motorcyclists in an horrific crash in New Hampshire last week had been previously arrested in Connecticut, after refusing a sobriety test -- a revelation that has led to finger pointing between the licensing agencies of two states. 

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy held a commercial driver's license issued by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. The head of that agency has now resigned, after failing to act to revoke Zhukovskyy’s license based on information about the Connecticut incident.

But the Mass RMV also claims that the Connecticut DMV failed to provide sufficient information after the DUI arrest to start the clock on the termination of his license.

Zhukovskyy was driving a truck and towing a flatbed trailer in the New Hampshire town of Randolph Friday evening, when he collided with a group of ten motorcyclists, killing seven. The criminal complaint against Zhukovskyy alleges he was driving erratically and crossed the center line prior to the crash.

Zhukovskyy has plead not guilty to seven counts of negligent homicide. He’s in detention in New Hampshire, with a trial slated to begin in November.

But it’s emerged that he has a history of traffic violations. He was arrested in a Walmart parking lot in East Windsor, May 11, after he was stopped by officers and refused a field sobriety test. He has denied being intoxicated and said he will fight those charges.

Licensing authorities are supposed to notify each other, through the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators messaging system, of incidents which may affect drivers’ eligibility to hold a license. And the Massachusetts RMV does acknowledge that the Connecticut DMV sent a communication on May 29 about Zhukovskyy’s arrest.

But in a statement issued June 25, the MA RMV goes on:

“The online communication sent by Connecticut on May 29 did not contain sufficient information to automatically input Zhukovskyy’s OUI into his MA driving record and therefore did not automatically trigger the 7-day notification process for his non-commercial license suspension in accordance with Massachusetts law.”

The assistant commissioner of the Connecticut DMV, Tony Guerrera, told Connecticut Public Radio that there's no reason that Massachusetts should not have had all the information it needed.

"We're having a hard time understanding this," he said. "We checked the information. We've got written correspondence here, electronic database that shows when we sent it, with the code, when they received it."

Guerrera also said that since Massachusetts has raised the question about transmission of the information, the CT DMV has rechecked the interaction with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, which has confirmed that it was carried out correctly.

"All the documentation, all the electronic verification shows that Massachusetts did get this information," said Guerrara.

Meanwhile, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has notified New Hampshire authorities that it has issued an immigration detainer on Zhukovskyy, who is originally from Ukraine. ICE is asking for him to be held until the agency can take him into custody and potentially begin deportation proceedings.

This story includes reporting from the Associated Press. The article has been updated.

Harriet Jones is Managing Editor for Connecticut Public Radio, overseeing the coverage of daily stories from our busy newsroom.

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