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Driver Charged In New Zealand Van Tragedy

SHA junior faces hearing next month


New Zealand police yesterday charged a School of Hospitality junior with careless driving that caused the deaths of three BU students and injured himself and four others in last weekend’s van rollover.

Stephen Houseman (SHA’13) of Massapequa, N.Y. did not enter a plea to the seven counts against him in Auckland District Court and was held until his court appearance next month, according to a New Zealand paper quoted by The Boston Globe. He was asked to surrender his passport. Each of the seven counts against Houseman carries a penalty of up to three months in jail, according to National Public Radio.

Police said Houseman had not used drugs or alcohol before the van he was driving veered onto a gravel patch, prompting him to over-correct his course. The van rolled over, killing Daniela Lekhno (SMG’13), Roch Jauberty (CAS’14), and Austin Brashears (ENG’13). Margaret Theriault (SMG’13) was airlifted from the crash and remains in critical condition at New Zealand’s Waikato Hospital.

“This is not a decision taken lightly, and we understand the tragedy will already have had a significant impact on this young man,” police spokesman Kevin Taylor said in a statement. “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.” Police met with the students and their families to brief them on the legal situation and answer questions, Taylor said.

Houseman and three other students were treated for injuries; Houseman appeared in court with an arm sling, the New Zealand paper reported. All of the students but Theriault were enrolled in BU’s study abroad program in Auckland; Theriault was visiting from her study abroad program in Sydney, Australia. The students were caravanning to a day hike.

Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

4 Comments on Driver Charged In New Zealand Van Tragedy

  • BU Alum on 05.18.2012 at 12:32 pm

    How absolutely devastating. It could have been any one of those kids driving the van. As if he’s not dealing with enough, now this? Thoughts and prayers to all involved.

  • Kiwi on 05.18.2012 at 3:41 pm

    NZ has one of the most professional, decent Police forces in the world. Rest assured that this young man will be treated with the utmost dignity and respect and my guess is that this is an exercise in ‘their hands are tied due to the constitution of NZ laws’ more than anything else. The Police will be parents too and will have an empathy towards this student and an absolute understanding of the trauma he has had & is suffering now. Due to the severity of what has happened, there will be a legal process to follow. This would apply to all people, including NZ’drs. He will be home soon.

    Love and thoughts go out to this young man and all familes invoved. I’m so sorry this has happened here.

  • Samira on 05.18.2012 at 3:52 pm

    Thoughts and prayers to all involved.

  • chubbyguy on 05.19.2012 at 12:56 pm

    I wish that here in the United States we had similar laws, the type of aggressive, careless driving I see is disturbing, every year 35,000 plus people get killed in car accidents, including 5,000 teenagers. And where is the outrage? 4200 people were killed in the combine Iraq-Afghanistan war and the media would not leave that alone , yet we are having SEVEN of these wars a year and no one seems to care

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