RANDOLPH — Safety is “paramount” in designing a memorial for “The Fallen Seven,” said the town’s planning board chairman, John Scarinza.
American Legion Post 82 in Gorham has submitted a proposal that meets that requirement, he said Thursday at a public hearing that drew overwhelming support for a permanent memorial on town land.
Seven individuals riding with the Jarheads Motorcycle Club were killed and three other Jarheads sustained non-fatal injuries in a collision June 21. Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, of West Springfield, Mass., is accused of swerving out of the westbound lane in a pickup truck with a car trailer and striking the group on Route 2.
Mike Murphy, who is the commander of Post 82, said the memorial would be open between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and that it is planned to open in time for the first anniversary of the crash that forever changed the Jarheads MC.
Having Post 82 build and maintain the memorial in perpetuity under a memorandum-of-agreement, Scarinza said, represented “the ideal situation.”
To be tucked in well off Route 2 and accessed through an existing curb cut just past the impact site and current memorial, the new memorial would have parking for five vehicles and, overall, said Scarinza, would be “a respectful place” for people to stop and reflect on “The Fallen Seven” and/or any loved one who has died.
The Jarheads have approved using a vertical memorial with a cross cut out of its center, but Murphy said the club has yet to provide the words and symbols it wants inscribed.
The memorial’s inscription is a time-consuming process, Murphy said, so even if Post 82 were to receive approval from the town of Randolph as soon as next month, it is unlikely that the memorial would be completed by the end of the year.
The day of the crash, the Jarheads, many of whom had been staying at the Mount Jefferson View motel and cabins, had been headed to Post 82.
The club had rented the post’s hall for its annual meeting, which was to be held June 22, and members planned to set up the space for it on June 21.
Shortly after Post 82 realized what had happened to the Jarheads, members began raising money for a permanent memorial to the victims to replace the one that sprang up spontaneously at the scene of the crash, in the Randolph Community Forest.
While heartfelt and tasteful, that memorial was also immediately recognized as a potential safety hazard because drivers would slow down to look for it, then pull over on the small shoulder of the fast-moving east-west highway.
Murphy said Post 82, as of Thursday, had raised $11,300 of the approximately $12,000 it needs to pay for the memorial and inscription.
Zhukovskyy, who was subsequently arrested and charged with seven counts of negligent homicide, is being held without bail at the Coos County House of Corrections pending a trial sometime in November. He has pleaded not guilty.