Head of Mass. RMV resigns over fatal NH crash that killed 7 people

BOSTON — The head of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has resigned over the case of Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, the man accused of causing a horrific crash in New Hampshire that killed seven people.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack said in a statement Tuesday night that the state Registry of Motor Vehicles failed to act on information provided by the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles about a drunken driving arrest involving Zhukovskyy.

Pollack said the arrest should have cost him his commercial driving license. As a result, she accepted the resignation of Erin Deveney.

“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 said in the statement.

"The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has a responsibility to enforce the laws governing safe operation of vehicles and carries out its mission to the best of its abilities. But in this case, 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."

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"Effective immediately, former MassDOT Chief Operating Officer Jamey Tesler will take over as Acting Registrar of the RMV as I have accepted Registrar Erin Deveney’s resignation," Pollack said. "Jamey will lead an in depth review of the Registry’s state-to-state data sharing processes to ensure the RMV acts as quickly as possible on any information shared by other states.”

According to the RMV, an initial review of the driving record of Volodymyr Zhukovskyy has determined the following information:

  • Zhukovskyy received a Massachusetts personal driving license April 25, 2013. He received a Class A license (CDL) on Aug.3, 2018. Zhukovskyy's driving history did not have the number and type of violations that would have disqualified him under state and federal law from obtaining a CDL in August 2018.
  • The driving record of Zhukovskyy includes a violation on June 26, 2013 for OUI-Liquor or .08% and a disposition for that violation on June 16, 2013. He was under the age of 21 at the time of this violation and served suspensions and attended education classes for this violation including a youth alcohol program.
  • On May 11, 2019, Zhukovskyy received violations for alleged OUI and refusing a chemical test in East Windsor, Connecticut.
  • The Registry of Motor Vehicles follows a series of state and federal guidelines regarding license suspensions or revocations for various types of licenses; when an incident occurs out of state, that state provides information to the RMV to trigger these guidelines.  The refusal of a chemical test results in the automatic termination of the CDL. The OUI would automatically trigger a seven-day notification process for suspension of his non-commercial license in accordance with Massachusetts law.
  • To the RMV's knowledge, Connecticut failed to provide sufficient information through the federal CDL system (CDLIS) upon his May 11th OUI offense and refusal of a chemical test for the violations to automatically apply to his MA driving record. CDLIS notification would have resulted in an immediate termination of his CDL.
  • On May 29, the Connecticut DMV sent a communication to the RMV through the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators messaging system, the state-to-state messaging system for registries, regarding Zhukovskyy's May 11th OUI.  The online communication sent by Connecticut on May 29 did not contain sufficient information to automatically input Zhukovskyy's OUI into his MA driving record and therefore did not automatically trigger the 7-day notification process for his non-commercial license suspension in accordance with Massachusetts law.
  • While the RMV system could not automatically process the communication, it generated a notification requiring manual review.  This review had not been performed by RMV personnel as of 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.

On Wednesday, the state's Deputy Communications Director issued a statement on behalf of Governor Baker regarding the issue:

"Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito are deeply saddened by this horrific tragedy and ordered an immediate review of the Registry's processes for handling state to state information sharing.  Keeping roadways safe is a top priority and the Administration will take all necessary steps to ensure the Registry is appropriately handling all data shared between states."

Zhukovskyy pleaded not guilty Tuesday to seven counts of negligent homicide.

He was arrested Monday morning at his Massachusetts home and handed over to New Hampshire authorities after a court appearance that day.

Investigators say the pickup truck Zhukovskyy was driving was towing a flatbed trailer when it collided with a group of motorcycles Friday on a two-lane highway in Randolph, New Hampshire.

Criminal complaints say Zhukovskyy was driving erratically, crossed the center line and collided with the bikes.

The people killed in the crash were Michael Ferazzi, 62, of Contoocook, New Hampshire; Albert Mazza Jr., 59, of Lee, New Hampshire; Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord, New Hampshire; Aaron Perry, 45, of Farmington, New Hampshire; Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, Rhode Island; and Jo-Ann and Edward Corr, both 58, of Lakeville, Massachusetts.

On Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents announced they have placed a detainer on Zhukovskyy. ICE officials say they will take him into custody after local criminal proceedings are over.

Deveney earned $143,871.40 in 2018. Her earnings so far in 2019 were $68,435.90.

This story contains information from The Associated Press.