A Rhode Island man was among seven people killed in a horrific motorcycle crash in New Hampshire Friday evening, authorities said Sunday.
Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, R.I., was described as Marine veteran and a loving father of two.
“There’s just nothing to describe the man that he was, the father that he was,” said Helen Pereira, 57, of her husband. They were married 27 years and have two children, 25 and 23 years old. “We’re all devastated,” she said.
She said Pereira joined the Marines at 18, and though it was an integral part of his identity, family came first. “He was the best man. He would give you the shirt off his back. And everything he did was for charity, helping with the Marines,” she said of Pereira, a lifelong East Providence-area resident.
In a phone interview, she thanked family, friends, and community for the support they have received in the wake of the tragedy. “We’re very thankful. Be well, be safe, and cherish your loved ones each day.”
The crash, which involved members of Jarheads MC, a motorcycle club comprised of Marine Corps veterans and close friends from across New England, has been called one of the worst tragedies in the state by New Hampshire authorities.
Five men and two women were killed when a pickup truck towing a flatbed trailer collided with a group of 10 motorcycles on a two-lane highway in the small town of Randolph Friday evening. Three others were injured.
In addition to Pereira, the other victims who died were identified as Joanne and Edward Corr, 58, of Lakeville, Mass.; Michael Ferazzi, 62, of Contoocook, N.H.; Albert Mazza, 49, of Lee, N.H.; Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord, N.H.; and Aaron Perry, 45, of Farmington, N.H.
New Hampshire Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jennie Duval has determined that all seven died of blunt force trauma, Deputy Attorney General Jane E. Young told reporters during a press conference at the Incident Planning and Operations Center in Concord Sunday afternoon.
Steven Lewis, 57, was five or six bikes behind his best friend Daniel Pereira when the truck and trailer veered into a group of motorcyclists who had just turned onto the highway, he said.
They were about 50 yards down the highway from their lodging, going 30 to 35 miles per hour, Lewis said, when “I saw parts flying in front of me. My friend Dan was in front of me I saw his bike get hit by the trailer and just start to break apart in pieces and the next thing you know I got hit and I ended up flying over the trailer and landing in the road.”
“First thought was I went to wiggle my toes to make sure I could move. Then when I got up I turned and I saw my friend’s bike. And I started to scream his name ‘where are you?’” Lewis said, pausing. “And I found him.”
The two were in the Marine Corps together for four years beginning in 1980 and had remained close friends ever since, going on numerous rides together: From twice-yearly trips to charity events to bringing home-cooked meals to paraplegics at the Jamaica Plain Veterans Affairs hospital every month. Then, the group of Jarheads, a group they had been in together for at least a decade, was slammed by a truck and trailer.
“I asked him not to leave; I asked him to stay with me . . . ” said Lewis, a Brimfield, Mass., resident who survived the crash with scrapes, bruises, and a swollen hand.
“He was a family man. He loved his kids, he took care of his kids. And his also loved Marines and always went out of his way to help,” said Lewis in a phone call from the Pereira house, where he went after being discharged from the hospital.
“My best friend isn’t here,” said Lewis, his voice breaking. “I’m not going to see that smile. I’m not going to get any practical jokes pulled on me that he liked to do . . . Part of me is gone. And it’s a good part.”