Motorcyclists with a club comprised of ex-United States Marines collided with a pickup truck on a rural highway Friday, killing seven and leaving the biker community reeling.
New Hampshire State Police said a 2016 Dodge 2500 pickup truck collided with the riders on U.S. 2, a two-lane highway in Randolph. The cause of the deadly collision is not yet known. The pickup truck, which appeared to be carrying a flatbed trailer, was on fire when emergency crews arrived.
Witnesses described a “devastating” scene as bystanders tried to help riders lying in the road.
Along with the seven dead, state police said two additional people were transported to hospitals. Their conditions were unknown. Police did not provide any names.
The crash has sent shockwaves through New England’s community of motorcycle enthusiasts and military veterans, which sometimes overlap. The crash involved members of Marine JarHeads MC, a motorcycle club in New England that includes Marines and their spouses.
“When something like this happens, we all feel it,” said Cat Wilson, who organizes a motorcycle charity event in Massachusetts and is a friend of some of the crash victims. “There is no tighter community than our biker community.”
A photo posted by WMUR-TV showed motorcycles and wreckage scattered across the highway and a truck on the shoulder in flames. The National Transportation Safety Board said they are sending a team to the site to investigate the crash.
“It’s tragic,” New Hampshire State Police Capt. Chris Vetter told reporters during a late Friday news conference. “It’s tragic for those involved, tragic for the families, so we’re doing our job, we’re doing our work and our thoughts are with the people who were adversely affected by this.”
A second news conference has been scheduled for 4 p.m.
Randolph is about a two-hour drive north of Concord, the capital, and a three-hour drive from Boston.
“There was debris everywhere,” said Miranda Thompson, 21, of Manchester, who was several cars back and recalled seeing a truck in flames on the side of the highway and six motorcycles.
“People were in the grass. There were people putting tourniquets on people, trying to make sure they didn’t move,” she said.
Jerry Hamanne, co-owner of a nearby bed-and-breakfast where most of the motorcyclists were staying, said he and a doctor also staying at his inn went to the scene to help. Others tried to assist as best they could but some people were already dead.
“It was so devastating to see the bodies on the road,” Hamanne said. “My God, I don’t want to see something like this again.”
Members of the motorcycle community are already organizing help for the victims’ families, said Wilson. Charlie St. Clair, executive director of Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, which hosts one of the state’s biggest rallies in June, said he couldn’t recall an accident of this magnitude involving bikers in the state.
He wasn’t on the scene but said had been fielding calls about the accident much of the night.
“This is staggering and it’s tragic beyond description,” St. Clair said. “You have a bunch of people out for a ride enjoying one of the first nice days we had. To have this happen, it defies logic quite frankly.”
Whittle reported from Portland, Maine. Associated Press writer David Sharp contributed from Portland, Maine.