A top official with the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles is denying Massachusetts officials’ claims the agency did not provide key information about a drunken-driving arrest that would have led to the termination of the driver’s license of Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, the man charged with killing seven motorcyclists in a horrific crash in New Hampshire. (Related story, Page A1.)
“Everything that we did at the DMV was by the law, to the letter of the law,” said Tony Guerrera, deputy commissioner of the DMV. “The information was sent to Massachusetts. Massachusetts did receive it.”
Guerrera was responding to a statement from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation that said Connecticut “failed to provide sufficient information through the federal CDL system” about Zhukovskyy’s May 11 drunken-driving arrest in East Windsor.
“Notification would have resulted in immediate termination of [Zhukovskkyy’s] CDL,” MassDOT said.
The head of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has resigned over that agency’s handling of the incident.
The resignation of Erin Deveney, registrar of the Massachusetts RMV, is effective immediately, Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said.
The head of the Jarheads motorcycle club, which all seven people killed in last week’s crash belonged to, told the Boston Globe the resignation is a “ridiculous” response to the incident.
“It’s ridiculous to for someone to be allowed to resign, or forced to resign…(and) run away from the problem,” Manny Ribeiro, president of Jarheads MC, told the Globe. “That’s how nothing gets solved. That’s how I feel.”
MassDOT said Connecticut did send a communication to Massachusetts about the drunken-driving arrest on May 29 through “the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators messaging system, the state-to-state messaging system” for motor vehicles department.
But “the online communication sent by Connecticut on May 29 did not contain sufficient information to automatically input Zhukovskkyy’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.”
Because the Massachusetts’ system could not automatically process the information from Connecticut, it required a manual review. That review had not taken place prior to the June 23 crash.
When asked if the Connecticut DMV had done anything wrong, Guerrera replied “absolutely not.”
“I’ve got to get back to you on the specifics of that but I believe [Guerrera],” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said when asked the same question after a meeting of the State Bond Commission.
Zhukovskkyy, 23, of West Springfield, Mass., was due in Superior Court in Enfield, Conn., Wednesday for the East Windsor arrest but was being held in New Hampshire and was not expected to appear. According to a report on MassLive.com, police were called to the parking lot of the East Windsor Walmart shortly after 9 a.m. on May 11 after a caller reported a man “revving his truck engine and jumping around.” The caller believed the man was drunk or on drugs.
“The report says Szabo put Zhukovskyy through a field sobriety test to determine if he was sober enough to operate a vehicle,” MassLive reported. “He failed and was taken into custody, charged with illegal operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”
Zhukovskkyy had one prior drunken-driving arrest in Massachusetts in June 2013, according to MassDOT.
Zhukovskyy pleaded not guilty Tuesday to seven counts of negligent homicide. He was ordered Tuesday to remain in preventive detention, with a judge saying his driving record poses a potential danger to the public and himself.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement filed a detainer against Zhukovskyy, a Ukranian national who had recently secured a U.S. green card, according to Boston media reports. The request means he could be deported.
The Dodge pickup Zhukovskyy was driving was towing a flatbed trailer and collided with the motorcycles in Randolph, N.H., early Friday evening, investigators say.
He was driving erratically and crossed the center line, according to criminal complaints released Tuesday.
A survivor of the crash said the trailer wiped out most of the bikers behind him.
Zhukovskyy was arrested Monday morning at his home in Massachusetts and handed over to New Hampshire authorities after a court appearance that day.