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Adventurous Friends Remembered

BU community recalls three who died


BU lost three members of its community this weekend when a van they were traveling in overturned on its way to a popular New Zealand tourist destination. On the Charles River Campus, friends and professors had wonderful things to say about the three students, all of whom were academically gifted and engaged in student life. The three were enrolled in BU’s study abroad program.


Austin Brashears (ENG’13)

Brashears, according to the New Zealand Herald, celebrated his 21st birthday a few weeks ago by bungee jumping from the Auckland Harbour Bridge. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native was studying mechanical engineering and minoring in energy technologies and environmental engineering.

He was president of the BU men’s water polo club last semester, and loved the music of Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, and John Mayer.

In an email sent to College of Engineering faculty, staff, and students, ENG Dean Kenneth Lutchen described Brashears as a “sensational member” of the ENG community.

“He was a student advisor, a Dean’s Host, and was involved in many other community-enhancing and leadership activities,” Lutchen wrote. “His grades were sensational. Several faculty have individually contacted me to volunteer that Austin was one of the brightest and most enjoyable students they have known…[We] lost someone who amplified the very experience and goals we all have at Boston University’s College of Engineering.”

Brashears was an enthusiastic and much loved Orientation leader last summer, where he worked with Rachel DeRaney (ENG’12), Vee Faller (ENG’13), and Katie Matthews (SED’12).

“He was a very loving, caring person,” says DeRaney. “He just radiated happiness. He was extremely intelligent, top of his class. He was an amazing role model for his freshmen and transfer students.”

According to Faller, Brashears “was incredibly smart, handsome, playful, and wildly popular. He went undefeated in Words with Friends, mesmerized the summer staff with his love card readings, and was able to see the good in everyone. He was always there for us when we needed him most. People will remember him for his zest for life and ability to start a dance party anywhere. He was genuine and an amazing person and friend.”

Katie Matthews (SED’12) says Brashears was a “gentleman,” who was always willing to walk her back to her apartment after late night Orientation events. “Austin was a very genuine person,” she says. “He always wanted to know how you were doing. He always wanted to know what he could do to help other people. During Orientation events, it was clear that the incoming freshmen and transfer students he was working with just loved him. I could see how much fun he and his students were having.”


Roch Jauberty (CAS’14)

Jauberty, 21, had lived in Los Angeles, Calif., and Paris, France. He had a double major, international relations and economics, and a minor in business administration and management. Jauberty interned at the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston, worked in the Warren Towers Dining Hall, and was involved in the College of Arts & Sciences student government.

Juliana Valentin (ENG’14), who is studying abroad in Grenoble, France, says the two met freshman year in Warren Towers and became good friends as sophomores in Shelton Hall.

“He was always smiling; I never even saw him mad,” Valentin says. “He just lived life to the fullest and he made everyone feel so special—he had the biggest heart. He loved to take risks and enjoyed everything. He was from Paris, so we talked a lot this semester over Facebook about how he wished he was here to show me around. I talked to him recently because I’ve been learning French, and we were talking about the French elections. Students and friends right now are all traveling abroad, around Europe and around the world, and we never think that anything could ever happen to us. I woke up this morning and saw the news before they released the names and I was just praying it wasn’t him.”

Jauberty took European Politics last fall with Sofia Perez, a College of Arts & Sciences associate professor of political science. “He was a wonderful student: intelligent, reflective, kind to others, and also very witty,” she says. “He clearly took a deep interest in his studies. It is a heartbreaking loss.”


Daniela Lekhno (SMG’13)

Lekhno, 20, was from Manalapan, N.J. She was studying business administration and management, with a minor in finance. She was a former member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority.

Hope Thomason (CAS’14), a friend who’s currently abroad in Argentina, says she is in shock.

“Daniela is one of the greatest people I have ever met and for that I need to tell you how amazing she was,” Thomason says. “Everything about her was special. The most kind, warm-hearted, beautiful, and fun girl. So loyal to her friends. She was in SMG, yet was  the most amazing writer… She was always keeping us on our toes and was a fireball, fierce and feisty, but honestly only in the best of ways. Many people will say this once someone is gone, but in all honesty, she is someone I always thought to myself how lucky I was to call her my best friend.  You couldn’t not love her. I can’t believe the world has lost her… I miss her so much.”

Lekhno took operations management last semester with Barry Kadets, a School of Management lecturer. He recalls speaking with her then about a book she was reading in Russian, which impressed him. Lekhno had asked him to write a few recommendations for scholarships she planned to apply for, and Kadets says he was happy to do so.

“She was a very interesting person,” he says. “Quiet in class, but very smart and a little more confident in herself than most students. Just a terrific girl. I was very upset when I heard the news.”

Julie Hirsch (CAS’12) was at the candlelight vigil held at Marsh Chapel Saturday night for the three students. Choking back tears, Hirsch describes her friend and fellow member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority as absolutely “wonderful.”

“We used to joke that we were brought together by our love of literature” Hirsch says, recalling Lekhno as a young woman known for being “sweet and kind,” and a person who “deserved the kind of happy ending that you read about in books.”

Please leave your memories of the students in the comments section below.

John O’Rourke contributed to this story.

Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

14 Comments on Adventurous Friends Remembered

  • Maria on 05.13.2012 at 12:01 am

    Just wanted to pass on my condolences to your community, from NZ.
    What a terrible tragedy this is, and my heart goes out to the three victims
    We are thinking of them over here, may they rest in peace.

  • W Azman on 05.13.2012 at 4:23 am

    Condolences to the BU community and the families of the departed.

    May they rest in peace.

  • GS on 05.13.2012 at 9:59 am

    Three bright lights, extinguished far too soon … condolences to all the friends and families of these fine young people. As well, prayers for the young woman in intensive care … may she recover fast and completely. A very sad day for the BU community.

  • Kate Bailey Gardner on 05.13.2012 at 11:09 am

    My heart goes out to all the friends and family of these beautiful young people. They are part of our BU community, which I didn’t realize till now, means more to me than I ever realized. God bless.
    Kate & Josh Gardner (UNI ’97)

  • Jessica Prats on 05.13.2012 at 2:27 pm

    My heart goes out to the families of these young people. As a BU graduate it really makes me feel very sad for such a loss. I just came back from my son’s graduation in Boston and can’t imagine not seeing him pursuing his dreams or his life being taken at such a young age. I will keep them in my prayers. (CLA ’90)

  • Emily Gartner on 05.13.2012 at 7:19 pm

    Today is Mother’s Day and a very sad one indeed for mothers of these student’s who have lost their lives way too soon. My heart goes out to the families, friends and BU community as they heal. Peace be with you all.

  • Daniel Bastian on 05.13.2012 at 8:18 pm

    As a BU graduate and a person who has visited friends enrolled in the NZ Study Abroad program this is a heartbreaking tragedy. My thoughts and prayers go out the family and friends of these students.

  • Doreen on 05.14.2012 at 6:29 am

    I am the parent of one of the students in the other van. Although I did not know the three amazing people up close and personally, I knew them through my son. The pictures that I saw and the funny stories that I heard gave me such joy to know my son had wonderful friends. My heart goes out to the families and friends of Austin, Daniela, and Roch. May God bless their families and keep them strong through such a difficult time, and help to emotionally heal my son and the friends who lost their beloved Austin, Daniela, and Roch.

    • Edith on 05.15.2012 at 6:47 am

      Dear Doreen,
      I am Roch’s Mom. Your words go to my heart. Roch’s friends are amazing and my heart is filled with the friendship they shared, and the happiness, the joyous moments they had in the past weeks, months. I also keep thinking a lot about them, who were on the same trip, and how awful it must be for them. I don’t know who your son is, but please send him a big hug and I wish him a happy life and I hope he’ll keep the memory of the smile and laughs of my son in his heart forever. It is mostly unfair for these young guys starting their life to lose one of them. With Love, Edith

  • Karen on 05.14.2012 at 10:56 am

    My son participated in the program 4 years ago and also traveled all over New Zealand with his friends. I remember how I would check each day for the next email and their latest adventure and I was so excited and so nervous at the same time…
    I can’t imagine their pain, my heart goes out to all of the families and their loved ones.

  • Pat on 05.14.2012 at 11:21 am

    BU has lost so much in one day that it breaks the heart. To their family and friends, I would like to send a heartfelt wish that somehow the pain will give way to a celebration of their lives which we can all see touched so many others. Even though they were lost way too soon, they have left a legacy that won’t be forgotten by those who loved them. Prayers are all we can give now and I know there are many voices speaking their names and mourning their loss. Bless you all.

  • Crystal-Angelee Burrell on 05.14.2012 at 12:07 pm

    I feel that every member of the BU family should take a moment to remember the 3 friends we lost in this accident. My heart and my prayers go out to their family and their friends at BU an beyond.

    All my love, CAB.

  • Kiwi on 05.14.2012 at 2:08 pm

    As a New Zealander, living close to this area and also having lost my own child in an accident within the Central Plateau, I’d like to extend my own devestation at the lose of these three precious young lives. To their familes, friends and fellow students so far away, my heartfelt love and condolences go out to you all. Please know that we here in NZ mourn this tragic loss heavily and are so deeply saddened by this event. Kia Kaha! (stay strong).

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