Thousands of motorcyclists, waved on by bystanders with American flags, rode through New Hampshire on Saturday to the site where seven bikers were killed in a collision with a truck in June.
More than 3,000 bikers, some from as far away as California and Florida, participated in the 90-mile tribute trip from Laconia, New Hampshire, to the somber crash site in Randolph, where a memorial of flags and a color guard stood. A memorial service was held in a field just beyond the crash site.
"This is what happens when good people die," said Manny Ribeiro, president of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, to which the victims of the crash belonged. He didn't attend the ride, saying it was "too soon" for him to be at the crash site but said the event and turnout was "just amazing."
The Jarheads is a New England motorcycle club that includes Marines and their spouses. On Saturday, the crowd of bikers said a prayer and sang the Marines’ Hymn before heading out from Laconia, according to organizers.
The company that employed a Ukrainian-born truck driver whose collision with Marine veteran motorcyclists and their spouses left seven dead has a history of violations including mechanical problems and drug-related infractions.
The seven bikers were killed in June when a pickup truck hauling a flatbed trailer crashed into the group. The pickup driver, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, pleaded not guilty to negligent homicide and remains behind bars.
Those killed 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.
Organizer Steve Allison told WMUR-TV that he was overwhelmed by the turnout Saturday.
“Unlike anything I ever expected, and I am humbled to my absolute core,” said Allison. “I’m actually doing my best to keep from crying, because I never would’ve expected this.”