Academia, Campus, International

Vigil attendees remember BU students killed in New Zealand

Candles lit on marsh plaza for vigil remembering BU students killed in NZ crash. AMELIA PAK-HARVEY/DFP STAFF

College of Arts and Sciences junior Tori Pinheiro said the first time she met Austin Brashears, one of the victims of a car crash in New Zealand, he told her the scar on his face was from a shark bite, although she later learned it was from a surfboard hit to the face.

“That pretty much sums up Austin, he’s just an amazing person,” Pinheiro said, “and I had the privilege of being his best friend, and he was mine for the next year, and year after that, and year after that, and to this day.”

Pinheiro read a letter she wrote for Austin, one of three students killed in the car crash, at a candlelight vigil held on Saturday evening at Marsh Plaza that commemorated the students killed in the crash.

“You were the love of my life and we made each other so happy, and I never experienced a joy like I had with you,” she read. “We opened the doors to the world for each other and had to part ways to experience it.”

Boston University students gathered at Marsh Plaza to remember College of Engineering junior Brashears, CAS sophomore Roch Jauberty and School of Management junior Daniela Lekhno, all who died in a car crash this weekend while studying abroad.

The five BU students injured from the crash include SMG junior Margaret Theriault, CAS freshman Emily Melton, CAS senior Kathy Moldawer, School of Hospitality Administration junior Stephen Houseman and SMG junior Alys McAlpine.

Marsh Chapel Dean Robert Hill said senior Katie Matthews, who helped organize the vigil, might have thought that gathering everyone together would help everyone start not to understand, but to accept “what has befallen us.”

“We don’t understand, but we begin to accept when we find the courage to withstand what we cannot understand, the power to withstand what we cannot understand, even the faith to withstand what we cannot understand,” Hill said. “In that sense we are gathering to begin with the work of acceptance.”

Matthews said if there is anything her four years at BU has taught her, it is that communities must support each other.

“In light of this devastating tragedy, we must come together in order to heal,” she said. “Your presence here tonight is a testament to the strength of our community.”

CAS senior Julie Hirsch, Lekhno’s big sister in the Alpha Delta Pi sorority, said the two used to joke that they were paired together because they both loved literature.

Hirsch said Lekhno could go from making highbrow Shakespeare jokes to singing, “Biggie Biggie Biggie, can’t you see?”

“She deserved the happiest ending that you always read in the books,” Hirsch said, “and she deserved the ending that the beautiful girls always get because she was beautiful.”

ENG junior Blake Wrobbel said he first met Jauberty a few years ago in California.

“I was speaking to one of my good friends today . . . and he said Roch was there because Roch lived the way he wanted to live, not how someone else ever wanted him to live,” Wrobbel said, “but he was living by his standards and he was living his dreams.”

After students had a chance to remember their friends through anecdotes, they observed a moment of silence while lighting candles to remember their loved ones.

Tom Murphy, an ENG senior who also went to pay his respects, said he worked with Brashears during orientation.

“He was always very happy, very exciting individual, there was never a dull moment when you were around him, and he was always very comforting,” he said, “and he always could help you out if you were having a problem too.”

BU President Robert Brown, who also spoke at the vigil, said the vigil was wonderful and spontaneous.

“We were running around scrambling today wondering if anything could be done and the students pulled it together which is really wonderful,” he said in an interview with The Daily Free Press.

Brown said in a small city, tragic things happen to good people, but the community has to “hold together and learn how to grieve and learn how to get past it and look at all the wonderful things the community’s doing.”


  1. R.I.P such a tragedy 🙁 xx

  2. Daniel A Pellegrini Sr

    Meg Theriault Please how can I send a updated story on my daughter who is now 21 sustained a serious head injury and 2007 although issues she pulled out of it I would like to give inspiration to the family that she may pull out ok although issues may remain they still have her Thanks Dan feel free to give my e-mail to them for support