By Amanda Cedrone, Zachary T. Sampson and Jeff Fish, GlobeCorrespondents Three Boston University students studying abroad in New Zealandwere killed and five from BU were injured when a van in which theywere riding swerved off a road just outside the town of Taupo,officials said. The accident occurred around 7:30 a.m. New Zealand time Saturday,which was Friday afternoon in the Eastern time zone, according to astatement on Boston University s website. According the New Zealand police, Daniela Rosanna Lekhno, RochJauberty, and Austin Brashears were killed in the crash.
Thestudents ages and hometowns were not made available. This is a horrible tragedy, said Robert A. Brown, BostonUniversity s president. Our prayers go out to the students andtheir families.
We will do all we can to provide comfort andassistance to those who have been injured, and to the families andfriends of the victims. The university is mobilizing all of ourresources to help our students and families deal with thistragedy. David Baker, director of the international office that oversees thestudy abroad program for the University of Auckland, said hebelieved about 47 BU students were in New Zealand for the program. Two seven-seater minivans were carrying people for a day trip towalk the Tongariro Crossing, a famous hiking path, he said. Early indications from the scene showed that one of the minivansdrifted left onto gravel, overcorrected, and then rolled over,Kevin Taylor, a road policing manager inspector for the New Zealandpolice, said in a statement. Komatsu Turbocharger
Taylor said police did not know why the vehicle drifted on LakeRotoaira Road. Officers could not confirm if the occupants were wearing seatbelts, but police said that the fact that some students were thrownfrom the vehicle would indicate at least some were not restrained. Two of the Boston University students who died were studying at theUniversity of Auckland, and the other BU student was at theAuckland University of Technology, Baker said. He said a number of staff from Boston were with the students. On the BU campus in Boston late Friday night, students reacted withsorrow as word spread about the students deaths. Hitachi Turbochargers
It s really sad and tragic that it happened right beforegraduation and abroad, said Erika Smith, a senior who learned ofthe fatal accident from BU s Twitter account. Dan Salgarolo, a BU senior, learned of the accident on Facebook. Any time something like this happens, my heart goes out to thefamily, he said. I m sure the university will tell us as soonas they have more info. Bryan Fleurjuste, another BU senior, screamed when he heard thenews from Salgarolo. China Man Turbocharger
It s kind of shocking because I know someone in the New Zealandprogram this semester, he said Salgarolo said the New Zealand program is a popular study abroadoffering. Bobby LeBlanc, a junior, was saddened by the news. That s really horrible to hear, especially considering all thenews at BU lately, he said. My prayers and thoughts go out tothem and their family. So tragic.
Baker said that the University of Auckland will work to supportstudents through this difficult time. There s going to be a lot to do, not only with the survivors ofthe accident but with the rest of the group, Baker said. Obviously they re a long way from home, and they ve got nofamily there. New Zealand police said that a woman in her 20s was taken toWaikato Hospital in Hamilton, New Zealand, in critical conditionand two women were taken to Rotorua Hospital in Rotorua withmoderate injuries, police said. Also, one man and one woman, both in their 20s, were being treatedat Taupo Hospital for minor injuries, police said.
Colin Riley, a BU spokesman, said there probably will be amemorial, but that decision is at the discretion of the students families. We always defer to the families on those issues, hesaid. The Auckland study abroad program has added additional counselingservices, the BU statement said. Two New Zealand universitiesassociated with the program – the University of Auckland and theAuckland University of Technology – have also extended theircounseling services to BU students abroad. Officials at the Auckland University of Technology could not bereached for comment.
In the BU statement, dean of students Kenneth Elmore noted thatthis has been a difficult year for the university. A BU student wasshot and killed in Allston this year and several assault incidentshave occurred involving students. This is an unusual time on our campus, said Elmore. We have alot of people who are traveling and some people who arecelebrating. I d like everyone to please take a moment to pay ourrespects to the families of those who have been killed.
I hopeevery one in our community knows that if anyone needs assistance,counseling is available in person and on the phone. Taupo is on the North Island of New Zealand, sitting roughly midwaybetween Auckland and Wellington. Zachary T. Sampson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org,Amanda Cedrone can be reached at email@example.com, and Jeff Fishcan be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.