Campus, News

BU community responds after car crash in New Zealand leaves three students dead, five injured

The Boston University community plans to commemorate fellow BU students abroad in New Zealand who suffered a car crash that claimed the lives of three students and injured five more.

In an email sent to the BU community, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Virginia Sapiro said CAS sophomore Roch Jauberty, School of Management junior Daniela Lekhno and College of Engineering junior Austin Brashears died in the accident.

CAS freshman Emily Melton, CAS senior Kathy Moldawer, School of Hospitality Administration junior Stephen Houseman and SMG junior Alys McAlpine sustained non-life threatening injuries, Sapiro said.

SMG junior Margaret Theriault was seriously injured and airlifted to the hospital, BU spokesman Colin Riley said.

“Obviously she’s in our prayers and we hope she is able to recover from her injuries . . . hopefully they all make a full recovery from their injuries,” he said.

He said Dustin Holstein, an SMG junior, was not injured in the accident as a correction to Sapiro’s letter.

Riley said all of the students but Theriault were involved in BU’s study abroad program in Auckland. He said Theriault was visiting from BU’s study abroad program in Sydney, Australia.

In a letter sent to students, BU President Robert Brown said he was “deeply saddened” by the loss of the students.

“Our thoughts and prayers go to the families and friends of the three young people who have lost their lives,” he said. “We are also holding the injured students close in our thoughts and prayers.”

Brown said the Global Programs staff, the Office of the Dean of Students, Marsh Chapel, the Office of the President and the provost are dedicated to handling the situation.

The students were traveling in a van in the town of Taupo when their vehicle swerved off the road, The Daily Free Press previously reported.

Riley said investigators claim the vehicle rolled over.

A number of vehicles were traveling in a group, but only one was involved in the accident, Riley said to the Free Press.

Riley said the students were on a student-organized hiking and exploration trip, and there were no BU program staff present.

“We received a call from people who were traveling with them about the accident,” he said. “Then the vice consul and U.S. consulate was very helpful and reached out to us and provided most of the details of what we’ve learned.”

Riley said two of the five injured students have been released from the hospital.

BU Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore said the school has already been in touch with students in New Zealand and offered them counseling sessions.

Elmore said this type of incident gives everyone a pause to stop and think about who and what is important in life.

“In terms of the community, I think what is commendable is that this community comes forward every time and responds every time quite well,” he said. “We have faculty, we have staff who have stepped forward to give remembrances of beautiful, wonderful people who we lost.”

Students organized a vigil on Marsh Plaza on Saturday evening, Elmore said.

The vigil is a way for everyone “to show the gratitude that we have [for] three remarkable young people who embraced us a community and who we embraced as a community,” he said.

Elmore said the ceremony is meant to remind the injured students that the BU community is still thinking of them and wishing them a speedy recovery.

“Everyone is welcome,” Sapiro said. “Counselors will be available from both health and religious services.”

Riley said he hoped the community would come together for support.

“[We want to] make sure that everyone be there for other students and recognize what a terrible tragedy this is and that there’s a lot of people who may need some comfort,” he said.

Both Marsh Chapel chaplains and Student Health Services are offering emotional support, Sapiro said.

Despite a string of unfortunate events at BU this year, Elmore said this accident deserves its own attention.

“This is about trying to make sure that we are providing the assistance to some students and their families that they need and the ability to listen to some students who are really hurting and troubled right now,” he said.

Amelia Pak-Harvey contributed to the writing of this article.

One Comment

  1. My condolences to the family and friends of those lost in the accident. I remember losing one of my closest friends while a Sophmore at Boston University and it was one of the most difficult things to go through at a very transitional phase in ones life. Surround yourself with those you love and be thankful for the many great times you had.