A student from Huntington Beach who was studying abroad in Auckland, New Zealand crashed his car and killed three of his friends.
Stephen Houseman, 20, of Boston University, was charged with careless driving after he rolled his car and caused the deaths of Nicholas Jauberty, Daniela Lekhno and Austin Brashears.
Three other people were also injured. Their names are Kathy Moldawer, Alys McAlphine, Emily Melton and Margaret Theriault. Houseman has been charged for their injuries as well.
He appeared before the Auckland District Court and was re
manded without plea until his next court appearance in June.
All of the students were doing student abroad programs with Auckland University and Auckland University of Technology.
They were all traveling in a two-car convoy to a popular tourist destination called Tongariro Crossing on the North Island of New Zealand in a group of 16 people.
According to police reports, the crash occurred when Houseman hit a gravelly patch on the side of the road and over-corrected, causing the vehicle to flip over.
Inspector Kevin Taylor, a road policing manager for the Bay of Plenty area of New Zealand, said that the van that they were traveling in, appeared to be in good condition, but authorities are still looking to see if the van suffered from mechanical failure.
Taylor also said that it was not an easy decision to charge the driver, but that the laws must be undertaken in all cases.
“However we are faced with a situation where three people have died and others are seriously injured and we must apply the law in an objective and dispassionate way. The process from here is that the case will be put before the court. Once the court process is concluded it will then be for the Coroner to make the final determination about cause of death.”
“We have ruled out any use of drugs or alcohol by any of the young people involved, including the driver.”
One of the victim’s parents said that they understand and empathize with Houseman’s parents. Their daughter, Meg Theriault, was put in a medically induced coma after she received severe head trauma from the impact of the crash.
“We feel their pain and he now has a journey of recovery much like our daughter does. We understand there needs to be a court process and we support it.”
“But that could have been any one of our kids at the wheel. This was an accident – all our kids were pursuing their dream. Nobody was intentionally doing anything that would harm anyone.”
Her parents also said that their daughter remains in critical condition, but had started breathing on her own for the first time since she was taken to the hospital. They hope that she continues to progress.
Auckland University will hold a remembrance ceremony for the lives lost tomorrow.
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