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Bikers bid goodbye to 7 motorcyclists killed in N. Hampshire crash

COLUMBIA, N.H. (AP) — A long-planned Blessing of the Bikes ceremony for motorcycle enthusiasts became a scene of mourning and reflection Sunday as about 400 people paid tribute to seven bikers killed in a devastating collision with a pickup truck .

The victims of the wreck Friday evening were members or supporters of the Marine JarHeads — a New England motorcycle club that includes Marines and their spouses — and ranged in age from 42 to 62.

“When they fall, we all fall,” said Laura Cardinal, vice president of the Manchester Motorcycle Club, adding that fellow bikers will support the families of those who died. “Those families, they’re going to go through a lot now. They have a new world ahead of them.”

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, leaving victims strewn on the grass amid their shattered bikes.

The cause of the crash was under investigation, and no immediate charges were filed.

Blessing of the Bikes ceremonies are held in many locations as a way to give prayers for a safe season. Sunday’s event, situated about an hour from the accident site, was expected to draw maybe 100 or 200 people before it was transformed by tragedy.

The Rev. Rich Baillargeon presided, blessing the bikes using a branch dipped in holy water as they filed by, and held a moment of silence and prayer for the victims. One biker got up to say a prayer but got choked up and couldn’t finish.

The ceremony also included a bugle playing of taps.