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Ukrainian trucker involved in fatal accident wants his license back while awaiting deportation

Written by The Anand Market

Updated on:

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) β€” A Ukrainian commercial truck driver who faces a deportation order is trying to regain his driving privileges now that he has been acquitted of causing the deaths of seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire.

β€œI would like to request a hearing to get my license back,” Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 28, wrote to the New Hampshire Department of Safety in September, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press under the state’s public records law. the state.

Zhukovsky is awaiting a state administrative hearing on the license application as he faces an unresolved drunken driving charge in Connecticut, where he was arrested a month before the accident in the New Hampshire. He rejected a plea deal in the case Thursday, according to court records.

Acquittal for manslaughter in 2022 sparked lively comments from Gov. Chris Sununu, who said the seven bikers β€œdid not receive justice,” and Attorney General John Formella, who said he believed the state had proven its case.

Prosecutors argued that Zhukovsky β€” who had taken heroin, fentanyl and cocaine on the day of the crash β€” had swerved several times before the collision and told police he was the cause. But a judge threw out eight DUI charges and his lawyers said the lead motorcyclist was drunk and not looking where he was going when he lost control of his motorcycle and slid in front of Zhukovsky’s truck.

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THE the jury found him not guilty of multiple counts of manslaughter and negligent homicide stemming from the June 21, 2019 collision in Randolph, New Hampshire. The crash killed seven members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, an organization of Marine Corps veterans and their spouses in New England.

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Zhukovsky’s license was automatically suspended after his arrest, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested him after the verdict, citing prior convictions for drug possession, driving with a suspended license, providing false information and theft. Zhukovsky was taken from a county jail in New Hampshire to a federal detention center in Pennsylvania.

Zhukovsky’s immigration lawyer sought asylum for his client, who came to the United States from Ukraine at age 10 and was granted permanent resident status. Judge orders Zhukovsky’s expulsion last February and there is no record of an appeal in the case, according to the Executive Office for Immigration Review.

But it is unclear how he could be sent to a country at war with Russia. The United States suspended repatriation flights to Ukraine and authorized temporary protected status for qualified Ukrainians. Details of the judge’s decision have not been made public.

Zhukovskyy was released from central Pennsylvania in April under a supervision order, according to detention and immigration officials. This type of order allows immigrants to live and work in the United States, provided they meet regularly with ICE officials and agree to follow specific conditions.

Zhukovsky, who pleaded not guilty to the Connecticut prosecution, did not respond to interview requests from The Associated Press.

The administrative hearing on his driving privileges has been postponed at least twice. Restoration will depend largely on whether Zhukovsky “materially contributed” to the accident, said Earle Wingate, his lawyer. He said he wanted Zhukovsky to appear in person, but the prosecutor obtained a request for Zhukovsky to appear by video, citing security concerns.

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“The car crash was highly publicized and affected an inordinate number of the victims’ families and friends and it goes without saying that it is causing high emotions for all,” said prosecutor Stephen Kace in his request.

Wingate acknowledged that “emotions could run high” but noted that security had been provided during Zhukovsky’s trial.

Motorcyclists from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island died in the 2019 crash.

At the time of the accident, Zhukovsky’s commercial driver’s license, issued in Massachusetts, should have been revoked after his arrest in Connecticut.

Connecticut officials alerted the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, but Zhukovsky’s license was not suspended due to a delay in out-of-state notifications of traffic violations. In one study, federal investigators found similar backlog problems in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and at least six other jurisdictions.

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