Potentially thousands of motorcyclists will take to the roads of New Hampshire Saturday to commemorate the lives of the seven bikers killed last month in a collision with a pickup truck.
The memorial is being called the Ride for the Fallen 7, and one of its organizers appeared Friday with state and local safety officials at a news conference where the route was announced and drivers were urged to be patient and follow the rules of the road through the weekend.
The ride is slated for Saturday, according to a Ride for the Fallen 7 Facebook group that represents the event and lists various locations, from Massachusetts to Maine, for riders to meet up before the ride.
"My mission was to make sure these seven people would never be forgotten and I think we are on the right path to doing that,” said organizer Brian DeSimone of Derry, New Hampshire.
He added that he wanted to make people aware of the dangers that motorcyclists face on roads every day.
The ride itself, which will only be for motorcyclists and will feature a slew of road and ramp changes, will travel from the Broken Spoke in Laconia at 11 a.m. to the crash site on Route 2 in Randolph at noon, largely on Interstate-93. More details are available on the event's Facebook page.
The June 21 crash left seven people dead and three others hurt, all members or supporters of the members of the Massachusetts chapter of the JarHeads Motorcycle Club, for New England Marine veterans. It was one of the deadliest crashes in state history and it drew sympathy from around the country.
It isn't clear exactly how many riders will take part in the memorial, but with more than 1,000 people expressing interest in it, it would be the biggest motorcycle event in at least recent New Hampshire history, according to state police Col. Chris Wagner.
"If there is ever a day in which you are to slow down, to have some patience on the roadway, to be appreciative of one another," it should be Saturday, Wagner said.
Drivers throughout the state my encounter groups of motorcyclists as well as lane changes and other traffic changes. Officials urged all drivers to be patient and obey traffic laws.
Funerals and various vigils have already been held, but there are more than 2,800 people who have signed on to the Ride for the Fallen 7's Facebook group.
The organizers of the ride had initially taken to social media to plan a small memorial ride for the Randolph victims.
"We were just looking to get 20-50 bikes maybe, maybe 100 at the most," said Steve Allison of Manchester, New Hampshire. "Needless to say, it far surpassed that."
He and his buddies never imagined it would become likely the largest organized ride in the history of the Granite State.
The three organizers didn't know any of the victims, but told NBC10Boston that, whether you're a Marine or a motorcyclist, you stick together in good times, and especially the bad.
"This is not a party, this is not bike week," said Mike Gasper of Greenfield, New Hampshire. "This is a memorial for these seven lost souls."
The JarHeads chapter's president, who survived the crash, said it's too soon for him to be there, but shared a message on behalf of his group.
"We just are overwhelmed and very, very appreciative and very, very thankful for all that's been going on," Manny Ribeiro said.
The motorcyclists who were killed are:
- Michael Ferazzi, age 62, of Contoocook, New Hampshire
- Albert Mazza, age 59, of Lee, New Hampshire
- Daniel Pereira, age 58, of Riverside, Rhode Island
- Joanne & Edward Corr, both age 58, of Lakeville, Massachusetts
- Desma Oakes, age 42, of Concord, New Hampshire
- Aaron Perry, age 45, of Farmington, New Hampshire
Truck driver Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, has been charged with negligent homicide in the deaths. He's pleaded not guilty and faces a November trial.