Thousands of motorcyclists are expected to take part Saturday in the memorial “Ride for the Fallen 7” that will end in Randolph with a prayer service at the scene of last month’s deadly crash.
Organizers Steve Allison of Manchester, Keith Morris of Nashua and Brian DeSimone of Derry decided to organize the memorial ride, anticipating no more than 100 bikers would take part.
But as word spread, interest grew. By Wednesday, organizers were saying as many as 3,000 riders are expected from all over New England.
State Police said liability issues prevent them from providing an escort, but organizers met Wednesday with Gov. Chris Sununu and state police officials. The parties agreed that public safety and security are the greatest importance.
Participants in the ride will obey the rules of the road and share the road.
“We are working closely with state and local police, and organizations to make this a safe, successful experience,” said a release issued by DeSimone.
The initial route called for riders to take Route 16 north to Conway, take the West Side Road and then pick up Route 16 again in North Conway to Route 2 in Gorham.
But after Wednesday’s meeting, organizers announced the ride will now travel Route 3 to the junction of 104 to Interstate 93 north. From there, the ride will take Exit 35, and travel through Twin Mountain. The ride will take Route 115 to Valley Road.
There is no fee to join the memorial ride, but participants are encouraged to make a donation to a GoFundMe campaign set up for families of the victims. As of Wednesday, the campaign had raised over $500,000.
The seven killed in the horrific June 21 accident were Albert Mazza, 59, of Lee; Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, R.I.; Michael Ferrazi, 62, of Contoocook; Aaron Perry, 45, of Lee; Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord; and Edward and Joan Corr, both 58, of Lakeview, Mass. All were members of supporters of the Marine Jarheads Motorcycle Club. At the time of the accident, the group had left the Jefferson View Motel to attend a charity raffle at the Gorham American Legion.
The American Legion Post 82 will be holding a prayer vigil July 20 with the Rev. Kyle Stanton leading the group in prayer. The post will be selling items to raise money for the Jarheads MC.
Cooper Pig Brewery in Lancaster has crafted a small batch beer, Jarhead Pale Ale, in honor of the victims that it will tap starting at noon Friday with net proceeds going to the families.
The seven killed in the accident were part of a group of motorcyclists that collided with a 2016 Dodge 2500 pickup truck hauling a flatbed trailer on Route 2. The driver of the truck, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, of West Springfield, Mass., has pleaded not guilty in Coos County Superior Court to seven counts of negligent homicide. He is being held in preventive detention at the Coos County Jail in West Stewartstown with a jury trial scheduled for November.
Zhukovskyy was on his second trip driving for Westfield Transport of West Springfield, Mass.
The repercussions from the accident continue, with The Associated Press reporting one of the motorcyclists injured has filed a civil suit against both Volodymyr Zhukovskyy and Westfield Transport.
Massachusetts officials have said Zhukovskyy’s commercial driver’s license should have been suspended after he was charged in May with operating under the influence and refused to take a chemical test in Connecticut.
The head of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, Erin Deveney, resigned when it was discovered her agency failed to act on notice of the arrest from Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles.
Zhukovskyy has denied that he was intoxicated at the time and the case has not come to trial.
He was also arrested on a drunk driving charge in Massachusetts in 2013 and ultimately lost his license for 210 days and was placed on probation for a year.