An annual Blessing of the Bikes ceremony in New Hampshire involved a moment of silence for Jarhead Motorcycle Club members who died in Friday crash

By Ashley Boucher
June 24, 2019 11:21 PM
Credit: Lisa Rathke/AP/Shutterstock

Seven motorcyclists who died in a tragic crash over the weekend were honored by several hundred fellow bikers at a New Hampshire Blessing of the Bikes ceremony on Sunday.

The Rev. Rich Baillargeon presided over the ceremony, leading an emotional moment of silence and a prayer for the victims, who had been on their way to a local charity event on Friday when struck by a pickup truck pulling a flatbed trailer, according to the Boston Globe. Five members and two supporters of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club were killed, and three more were injured in the crash.

The crash occurred on a country highway near the small town of Randolph, and footage of the aftermath reveals a fiery scene, with wreckage littering the two-lane road.

The Jarheads’ club president Manny Ribeiro tearfully described the crash as “far worse than anything I’ve ever experienced in my life” to CBS news’ Boston affiliate.

“It was like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. It was awful,” he said. “Some of the finest people I’ve ever met in my life. We’re all Marines. We’re all veterans. Navy corpsmen. And we’re just a bunch of people trying to do good things.”

Blessing of the Bikes
| Credit: Lisa Rathke/AP/Shutterstock

The Blessing of the Bikes ceremony, an annual event held at the beginning of summer to pray over riders’ safety, attracted bikers from all around New England. While 100 to 200 people were originally expected, about 400 showed up to offer support after the Jarheads MC accident Friday, the Associated Press reported.

“When they fall, we all fall,” Laura Cardinal, the vice president of Manchester Motorcycle Club, told the AP. “Those families, they’re going to go through a lot now. They have a new world ahead of them.”

“It’s a positive thing for bikers. And if anything, bikers need something positive,” said Gary Judkins, who attended the event with his wife Sheila. Judkins told the AP that they decided to come after hearing about the crash to show their respects, and to also feel connected to their fellow motorcyclists.

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“Seven people. C’mon. It’s senseless,” added Vietnam War veteran Bill Brown to the outlet. “Somebody made a mistake, and it turned out to be pretty deadly.”

A GoFundMe campaign was organized in the wake of the crash to raise money for the families of the seven victims.

According to the campaign’s author, Doug Hayward, the Jarheads MC “is a club consisting of active duty or honorably discharged Marines and FMF Corpsmen. We ride and serve veterans and veteran families in our committees, with chapters in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.”

Blessing of the Bikes
| Credit: Lisa Rathke/AP/Shutterstock

“We are strong enough to get through this, but we ask for and need your support,” Hayward said on the campaign page. So far, more than $380,000 have been raised.

The pickup driver, 23-year-old Volodoymyr Zhukovskyy, was arrested and charged with seven counts of negligent homicide, according to CBS News.

While no drug charges have been made, police found what they believed to be heroin residue in Zhukovskyy’s home, the outlet reported, and “will face an additional charge if lab tests are positive for narcotics.”

He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Coos County Superior Court in Lancaster, New Hampshire.