The trial for Volodymr Zhukovskyy, a commercial truck driver, charged with negligent homicide in the deaths of seven motorcycle club members in New Hampshire, is set to begin on Monday.

A prosecutor said Tuesday that a commercial truck driver charged in the deaths in 2019 of seven members of a Marine motorcycle club told police he caused the crash and wasn’t looking, while the driver’s lawyer said it was the fault of the lead biker, who looked over his shoulder at his fellow riders moments before the collision.

The truck driver, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 26, who had taken heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine on June 21, 2019, “weaved back and forth repeatedly” before the head-on crash, prosecutor John McCormick said in his opening statement in Zhukovskyy’s trial in state superior court in Lancaster.

McCormick said Zhukovskyy knew how dangerous heroin was because on May 5 that year, he had overdosed on the drug while on a fishing trip with his family and was revived by police, who administered an overdose reversal drug.

“This wasn’t just an accident,” McCormick said. “This was criminal recklessness and criminal negligence.”

Zhukovskyy’s drug use that day was “egregious,” not just because of what happened but also because he was free on bail on a prior charge of driving under the influence in Connecticut, according to prosecutors. 

The first witnesses who testified were drivers who approached the crash scene from both directions. They described seeing dead bodies, including one under a wheel of a flatbed trailer towed by the truck and debris from the motorcycles and the truck on fire.

“The thing that was immediately visible to me was a number of motorcyclists who were trying to dump their bikes and get out of the way,” he said, meaning to lay the motorcycles down. “I think it was a case of not feeling like there was anywhere to go.”

The motorcyclists who died were from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island and ranged in age from 42 to 62. They were part of a larger group that had just left a motel along the highway and were headed to an American Legion Post in Gorham for a fundraiser.

Killed were Mazza, of Lee, New Hampshire; Edward and Jo-Ann Corr, a couple from Lakeville, Massachusetts; Michael Ferazzi, of Contoocook, New Hampshire; Desma Oakes, of Concord, New Hampshire; Daniel Pereira, of Riverside, Rhode Island; and Aaron Perry, of Farmington, New Hampshire.

His lawyers have argued an independent analysis showed Mazza was drunk and was the one who hit the truck and caused the crash. Federal investigators found that some of the bikers and passengers were impaired by alcohol but that it wasn’t the reason for the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board approved a report in December 2020 that concluded that Zhukovskyy’s impairment from the drugs was the “probable cause” for him crossing the center line on the highway and sparking the fiery crash.

Prosecutors said Zhukovskyy should never have been on the road in the first place. His commercial driving license should have been revoked in Massachusetts because of a drunken driving arrest in Connecticut about two months earlier, they said.