(Reuters) - New Hampshire state police investigators encountered what they called the worst scene of their careers after a pickup truck collided head-on with a motorcycle club of U.S. Marine veterans, killing seven and injuring three, officials said on Saturday.
The driver of the pickup, who survived, was identified but not arrested after his vehicle hauling a trailer hit at least 10 motorcycles on Friday afternoon on a highway near the White Mountain National Forest.
“This is really described by our investigators as one of the worst investigations they have ever completed. I had my most senior investigators out last night and they had never seen the tragedy they saw last night,” New Hampshire State Police Colonel Chris Wagner told a news conference.
Officials said the motorcyclists were associated with the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, made up of Marine veterans and their families.
The group had a regional meeting scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Rollinsford, New Hampshire, about 100 miles (160 km) south of the crash site, the club’s website said.
Authorities were not identifying the dead pending notification of families. Two of the injured who were taken by ambulance to hospital have since been released, and one injured person who had been airlifted to the hospital was still receiving medical attention, Wagner said.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board was on the scene and likely to investigate for about five days, NTSB investigator Kenny Bragg said.
No arrests had been made, but Coos County Attorney John McCormick vowed to “pursue every lead,” and asked the public to come forward with any witness accounts or images that may have been taken just before the accident.
The pickup driver was identified as a 23-year-old employee of Westfield Transportation of Springfield, Massachusetts, who was driving a company vehicle with a trailer.
The crash in the rural northern part of the state occurred about 6:30 p.m. EDT (2230 GMT) on Friday between a Dodge pickup traveling west and a group of motorcycles traveling east on a state highway in Randolph, just above the White Mountains about 120 miles north of Manchester, state police said.
Reporting by Daniel Trotta and Peter Szekely in New York, editing by G Crosse