The National Transportation Safety Board plans to announce today a series of findings and safety recommendations stemming from a fiery June 2019 crash in New Hampshire that killed seven and led to the exposure of lax oversight by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.
© Miranda Thompson via AP
This photo provided by Miranda Thompson shows the scene where several motorcycles and a pickup truck collided on a rural, two-lane highway on June 21, 2019, in Randolph, N.H.
At a board meeting, NTSB officials will release the probable cause of the crash and offer safety recommendations based on the agency’s investigation. That inquiry found rampant drug use by a commercial truck driver and a blatant disregard of federal safety regulations by his employer, Westfield Transport of West Springfield, Mass.
The truck driver, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 24, who had a litany of arrests and road violations, told investigators he consumed cocaine and heroin believed to be mixed with fentanyl on the morning of the crash, but believed he was “fine and okay to drive” when his pickup truck collided with a pack of motorcycles from the Jarheads Motorcycle Club in Randolph, N.H., at about 6:30 p.m.
Zhukovskyy is charged with negligent homicide and other offenses and has pleaded not guilty. He is expected to face a trial next year.
The tragedy engulfed the Massachusetts RMV in scandal after it was revealed that officials had failed to act on two notices from Connecticut to suspend Zhukovskyy’s license before the crash.
The Globe published a multi-part series in August that exposed bureaucratic failings prior to the crash and also revealed that similar government negligence across the country has for decades allowed drivers with menacing traffic records to remain on the road.
The series described a regulatory system full of loopholes, finding that one in five of the more than 4 million commercial trucks regulated by the federal government is in such disrepair that if stopped by safety inspectors, it would immediately be taken out of service.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s oversight of the trucking industry has come under scrutiny from US Senator Edward J. Markey, who cited its “dereliction of responsibility” in an October letter that demanded the agency address widespread safety failures documented in the Globe report.
The NTSB board meeting will likely touch upon these themes.
Its investigators found prior to the collision, Westfield Transport mostly ignored safety regulations, but received little scrutiny from the FMCSA, according to documents released prior to the board meeting.
Dunyadar Gasanov, the company’s vice president, supervisor, and brother of owner Dartanyan Gasanov, told investigators he knew Zhukovskyy through a former landlord. Zhukovskyy was friends with the man’s son, according to NTSB records.
Dunyadar Gasanov described a haphazard process that resulted in Zhukovskyy being hired as a driver.
“I should add more of my procedures,” he told an NTSB investigator. “Hopefully, [this] would be [a] big lesson for all the country, to be honest with you.”
Two days before the crash, Zhukovskyy became Westfield