A pickup truck in rural New Hampshire struck and killed seven veterans on motorcycles Friday night. The crash ignited a small fire in a nearby wooded area and left a wreckage of damaged vehicles and the bodies of victims strewn across the highway.
State police said a Dodge pickup truck hit the group of motorcycles around 6:30 p.m. Friday along U.S. 2 in Randolph.
Authorities are still investigating what caused the deadly collision. Police have not released the names of the victims or the pickup driver, who witnesses said survived the incident.
"It's tragic," New Hampshire State Police Capt. Chris Vetter told reporters Friday night. "Our concern right now is with the victims, the victims' families and anybody else who was adversely affected by this accident," he said.
Police said two other motorcyclists were injured and one person was airlifted to an area hospital after the crash on the two-lane highway.
The riders were members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, which comprises active and veteran Marines. They were on their way to a bike gathering in northern New Hampshire, said Charlie St. Clair, executive director of Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, a large motorcycle gathering that ended last weekend.
"I can't emphasize enough how horrific this is," St. Clair told NPR. "It's our worst nightmare."
Beatrice Engstrand, a neurologist who was a first responder to the scene, told NPR the crash site looked "horrible."
Engstrand was staying at a nearby bed-and-breakfast, when the owner pounded on her door and said a doctor was urgently needed outside of the inn.
When she rushed out, she saw a devastating scene.
"At least three bikers were thrown into the woods and there were flames over 20 feet high," Engstrand said. "The motorcycles were all chopped up all over the roads and there were bodies everywhere and people crying."
Engstrand put tourniquets on some of the injured, applying compression to bloody wounds and performing triage before emergency responders arrived.
Randolph is about a two-hour drive north of Concord, the state's capital.
St. Clair, the motorcycle event organizer, was not on the scene, but said since the collision, he's been fielding a flood of calls from people in the biking community.
He said he cannot recall any motorcycle accident in New Hampshire that involved this many fatalities.
St. Clair said the section of U.S. 2 where the collision occurred does not have rumble strips, which warn drivers that they are veering onto the highway's shoulder.
"There are now some reasonable questions about having them," St. Clair said. "Maybe if they were there, some lives could have been saved."
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