FOXBORO (CBS/AP) — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft made a surprise announcement Saturday, as he pledged to donate $100,000 to the families of seven motorcyclists killed in a tragic crash in New Hampshire last month.
More than a thousand bikers came from across the country to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro to celebrate the lives of the men and women who were killed when a pickup truck and trailer crashed into a group of motorcycles in Randolph, New Hampshire on June 21. They were members or supporters of the Jarheads, a New England motorcycle club that includes Marines and their spouses.
Kraft met the group in the parking lot for the event Saturday, which raised money for the families of the victims. When he got up on stage to address the crowd, he made this surprise announcement.
“I know you have a GoFundMe page and it said you’re looking to raise 700 (thousand dollars) and you’re somewhere near $560,000, so our family, we’re going to commit $100,000 to that,” Kraft said.
The crowd erupted in cheers.
“And if you don’t get to the 700 today, we’re making it up whatever it is,” the Patriots owner said. “We are all Patriots and you are the true Patriots.”
“We need that support and it’s there. We’re embracing it,” said Matthew Ferazzi, whose father was killed in the crash. Michael Ferazzi was a U.S. Marine and later became a police offer in Plymouth, Massachusetts and New Hampshire where he became a member of the Jarheads MC.
“They were riding for good, they were riding for charity, they were riding to help people. My dad was a public servant his entire life. He helped people his entire life, that’s all he knew,” Ferazzi told WBZ-TV.
Manny Ribeiro, Jarheads president and crash survivor, said the weeks since the crash have been “awful” but the “unwavering support” has helped the group and the biker community through the tragedy.
“This event would not have come together without Mr. Kraft,” he said over the sound of live music and roaring motorcycles.
George Loring, another Jarheads member, said the support helps, but “it doesn’t stop the tears.”
“Every motorcyclist here is here to support those who have died and those who are injured and hopefully their presence today will help everybody heal,” said Loring, who was yards away from the crash.
The pickup driver, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, pleaded not guilty to negligent homicide and remains behind bars.
Connecticut officials twice alerted Massachusetts about a drunken driving arrest against Zhukovskyy. Despite the alerts, Massachusetts failed to suspend his license.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he’s drafting legislation to make the state’s commercial driver requirements more stringent. The state is also bringing in an outside firm to audit the motor vehicles registry.
“We lost seven people because they filed their paperwork away and didn’t do their jobs. This guy should not have been driving,” Loring said. “Now, we all have to live with it,” he said.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)