The Massachusetts motor vehicles chief has resigned amid revelations that the trucker charged in the deaths of seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire was able to keep his commercial driver’s license despite being busted for DWI in Connecticut last month.
Erin Deveney stepped down from her $143,800-a-year job heading the Registry of Motor Vehicles just hours after Volodoymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, pleaded not guilty to seven counts of negligent homicide in the Friday tragedy in Randolph, NH, the Boston Herald reported.
“The RMV had not acted on information provided by the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles about a May 11 incident that should have triggered termination of this individual’s commercial driver’s license,” MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack said in a statement.
Zhukovskyy, who was driving a Dodge 2500 pickup truck towing a flatbed trailer, collided with a group of 10 bikers who were members or supporters of a New England motorcycle club called the Marine JarHeads en route to a meet.
“The loss of life in any motor vehicle crash is a terrible tragedy and the massive toll this crash is taking on the families of the seven individuals who lost their lives, many of whom served this country, is impossible to comprehend,” Pollack added.
On May 11, Zhukovskyy failed a sobriety test in East Windsor, Connecticut, after police received reports of someone revving a truck engine outside a Walmart, according to the Herald, which cited a police report.
Zhukovskyy made “suicidal comments” and exhibited “extreme behavior,” according to East Windsor police, prompting them to send him to a hospital for treatment, USA Today reported.
Police said he refused a chemical test, which in Massachusetts results in the automatic revocation of a trucker’s commercial license, according to MassDOT. His non-commercial driver’s license should have been subject to a seven-day notification process for suspension.
But Connecticut “failed to provide sufficient information” through the federal licensing system about his refusal to take the test, according to MassDOT, so the automatic license termination did not occur.
On May 29, the Connecticut DMV notified the Massachusetts agency about Zhukovskyy’s arrest through a state-to-state messaging, but the online communication did not contain sufficient information to automatically input his arrest into his Massachusetts driving record.
“While the RMV system could not automatically process the communication, it generated a notification requiring manual review,” the MassDOT statement reads.
“This review had not been performed by RMV personnel as of (Sunday) June 23, which is why the May 11 chemical test refusal does not appear on Zhukovskyy’s driving record and why his license had not been suspended in MA.”
Zhukovskyy also was arrested for drunken driving in June 2013 and his regular driver’s license — which he had received two months earlier — was suspended. He attended education classes, including a youth alcohol program, since he was younger than 21 at the time, WCVB reported.
Most recently, Zhukovskyy was involved in a June 3 crash in Baytown, Texas, where he flipped an 18-wheeler, claiming to authorities that a car cut him off, according to the Herald.
On Feb. 11, Baytown police arrested him after he was spotted “talking to himself and acting strange” while sitting at a local Denny’s, police Lt. Steve Dorris told the paper. He was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia after being found with a crack pipe, police said.