Many are grieving in the wake of the fatal motorcycle crash in New Hampshire. At the same time, many are asking, “Where was the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles?” State lawmakers say they will now convene an oversight hearing to review the RMV safety lapses.
The Massachusetts RMV failed to suspend Volodymyr Zhukovskyy’s CDL license, a move which could have prevented the June 21 crash killing seven motorcyclists in Randolph, New Hampshire. Three other riders were injured. The motorcyclists belonged to the Jarheads MC, a New England club for Marine veterans and their spouses.
But how was Zhukovskyy even driving?
Weeks earlier, Zhukovskyy had been charged with an OUI in the state of Connecticut. The Massachusetts RMV received this information yet took no action, leaving the 23-year-old West Springfield man free to drive using his CDL license, which allows him to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
Even though he had a reckless driving history, Zhukovsky received his Class A license – or CDL – in August 2018, WCVB reported.
He had received his Massachusetts personal driving license in April 2013. Soon after, he was picked up for operating under the influence for hitting two vehicles in Westfield, Massachusetts, according to NBC Boston. He lost his Massachusetts driver’s license for 210 days.
Zhukovsky had a history of reckless driving and license suspensions in five states before the New Hampshire crash. In addition to the recent OUI arrest in Connecticut, he had been charged or involved in crashes in Massachusetts, Iowa, Ohio and Texas. He allegedly flipped a tractor-trailer haulting cars in Baytown, Texas just after the Connecticut OUI and just 18 days before the New Hampshire crash. He was not cited in that incident.
Still, Zhukovsky was driving a pickup truck towing a flatbed trailer for his employer, Westfield Transport, in New Hampshire.
Mistakes at the Massachusetts RMV
In the days after the truck crash, families mourned the motorcyclists and the Massachusetts registrar of motor vehicles resigned. We learned Zhukovsky wasn’t the only driver who slipped under the radar.
Gov. Charlie Baker and Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack held a series of news conferences. On July 5, they acknowledged they had launched a review of the out-of-state notifications, finding nearly 900 drivers had been allowed to keep driving in Massachusetts even as they faced serious charges in other states. As a result, state officials suspended approximately 876 drivers.
These were serious offenses, including operating under the influence of alcohol and drugs, leaving the scene of a fatal accident and even vehicular homicide.
According to The Boston Globe, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles had ignored thousands of notifications from other states and it was unclear when this practice began. The Globe reported no one at the RMV had been responsible for tracking paper notifications since at least March 2018. These notifications were found in 53 bins in the RMV’s Quincy headquarters, organized by the month of arrival, but with no action taken.
A state official told the Globe it was unclear why the RMV personnel stopped processing the paper notifications. However, the state had signed up for a voluntary electronic notification system created by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators that same month.
We can expect learn more about the safety lapses and the RMV in coming weeks. According to MassLive.com, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation has announced it will hold an oversight hearing later in July.
Meanwhile, Gov. Baker and Transportation Secretary Pollack say the Department of Transportation has or will:
- Extend its review of out-of-state license infractions back to 2011. More drivers could face suspensions.
- Hire an accounting firm, Grant Thornton, to conduct a forensic audit and determine why Zhukovskyy’s license was not revoked. The firm is expected to release a 30-day report, then a final report within 60 days.
- Create a new deputy registrar position to focus on public safety at the RMV.
- Gov. Baker said he is drafting legislation to tighten requirements for CDL licenses.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck in Boston, MA
The Boston personal injury attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck specialize in representing victims of motor vehicle accidents, truck crashes and motorcycle accidents in Boston, Worcester and across Massachusetts. Learn more about our work and results from our past clients and their families.
If you have been injured, learn your rights for seeking compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244, 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Massachusetts State Police are investigating a tragic crash which killed a female cyclist today in a heavily congested Boston intersection. The bicycle crash happened in the city’s Fenway neighborhood, less than a half mile from Fenway Park. Witnesses described a frightening scene as emergency responders attempted to resuscitate the woman, according to WBZ-TV. The woman was transported to Brigham & Women’s Hospital, where she sadly died from her injuries. The woman’s bike was left crushed in the road as State Police blocked off two traffic lanes to investigate.
The cement truck reportedly struck the woman on Brookline Avenue at Park Drive around 1:30 p.m., according to Boston.com. Just before 4 p.m., State Police reported the woman had died. The cement truck read, “Boston Sand & Gravel Co.” The driver reportedly stayed on the scene and was also transported to a hospital for evaluation. At this time, State Police have not released the name of the woman, the driver or confirmed the cement truck’s owner.
News photos showed the truck crash that killed the cyclist was near a major traffic block, near Emmanuel College, Boston University’s Fenway Campus and the Emerald Necklace walkway. Nearby is Longwood Medical area, including Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Children’s Hospital.
Police focused their investigation on the center of the large intersection, measuring marks in the road, according to WBZ-TV. The bicycle was crushed and the seat was detached. The cement truck remained on site for several hours before being towed away.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
Breakstone, White & Gluck is one of the most respected personal injury law firms in Boston. With more than 100 years combined experience, our attorneys represent cyclists and their families in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. With a special expertise in investigating truck crashes and an expansive knowledge of the trucking industry, our attorneys have a record of successfully negotiating the best financial results for our clients. Time and again, we have effectively presented the evidence and negotiated the maximum coverage on insurance policies. If you have been injured, learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, visit 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Experience
We invite you to read about one of our recent cases below or in Boston Magazine. Attorney Ron Gluck was recently interviewed about his work for the family of a cyclist who was struck and killed by a truck in Back Bay.
As we battled snow and cold, there were two fatal snow plow accidents this week, including one death here in Massachusetts. In Easton, a snow plow hit and killed a 64-year-old man who was changing a tire on Route 138. Meanwhile, in Illinois, another man was snow blowing his driveway when a plow truck backed into him. Both men were pronounced dead on the scene.
These were not the only snow plow accidents, either. In Johnson County, Kansas, a snowplow driver veered off the road and died in a single-car crash. In New York, a state DOT snow plow and vehicle collided in the Town of Aurelius in Cayuga County. Traffic was stopped as two people were airlifted for medical treatment.
Easton Snow Plow Accident
NBC Boston reports the 64-year-old Easton man was hit about 1 p.m. Wednesday on Washington Street, which is Route 138. The victim parked his van on the street, along the breakdown lane on the northbound lane, when the passenger truck plow approached. The victim was fixing the rear tire on the driver’s side when he was hit. According to the Brockton Enterprise, police arrived to find broken vehicle parts, a pair of sneakers and other debris littering the street. The car jack, tire and van were left behind.
Neighbors witnessed the horrific crash and told NBC Boston that the victim had been kneeling down when he was hit by the plow’s blade, then dragged. One homeowner has turned over home surveillance video to help police with the investigation, according to the news station.
Police are still investigating whether the plow driver will face criminal charges. The police chief told NBC Boston that one focus of the investigation will be where the victim was at the time of the crash, whether he was in the roadway or off the roadway.
Police have not released the driver’s name, but said he remained on the scene and cooperated with the investigation.
Illinois Snow Plow Accident Kills Man
In the Chicago suburbs, there was another sad story in the Village of Libertyville. A 75-year-old man was killed Monday morning while clearing snow and ice from his driveway. According to news reports, the victim may have been snow blowing his driveway when a snow plow driver backed into him. The crash happened in a cul de sac in the 600 block of Bridle Court in the Village of Libertyville.
The man was pronounced dead on the scene and the plow driver was placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation by the Lake County Major Crash Assistance Team began investigation.
Snow Plow Truck Accidents in Massachusetts
Snow plow drivers in Massachusetts have a responsibility to obey all traffic laws and exercise caution, always watching for pedestrians and other vehicles.
They must meet certain requirements to clear snow. First, snow plow drivers must apply for a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Second, they must buy commercial auto insurance, along with plow equipment. Finally, the Registry of Motor Vehicles issues special snow removal plates which they must use. Yet, beyond this, there is little oversight, including no restriction on how many hours they are allowed to work.
Plow drivers can work for private companies and contract with cities, towns, the state or private businesses; they can be owned and operated by cities and towns or they can be owned and operated by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Over the years, Massachusetts has seen numerous snow plow accidents lead to serious injuries and death. Causes of snow plow accidents can include drowsy driving, checking a cell phone and inexperience with the heavy machinery.
Snow plow drivers have faced criminal charges and civil lawsuits in Massachusetts. In 2016, a plow driver was charged with manslaughter in the death of a 60-year-old man he struck in Medford. A year earlier, the victim left Bread & Circus Bakery – a Whole Foods Market company – and walked across the store’s parking lot. Police allege the plow driver had been smoking marijuana prior to backing up and running over the worker.
Another tragedy came in February 2015, when a 21-year-old Fitchburg woman was killed in a snow plow accident as she walked home from a local Market Basket, where she worked. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the snow plow driver and his company, Einstein’s Inc., along with his insurance carrier, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corp.
According to the Sentinel & Enterprise of Fitchburg, the lawsuit alleged the driver had operated negligently, recklessly and carelessly and created a safety risk on public roads and highways and that the company had breached its duty to public to ensure the driver was operating safely.
If you or a loved one have been injured by the negligence of a snow plow driver in Massachusetts, our Boston personal injury lawyers can help you learn your rights for seeking compensation.
For a Free Legal Consultation, Call Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676.