Turangi tragedy claims three lives

A car crash near Turangi on Saturday May 12 resulted in the deaths of three Boston University students. The students who were studying on exchange at Auckland University, were on SH46 on their way to walk the Tongariro Crossing when the crash occurred.

Daniela Rosanna Lekhno, Roch Jauberty, and Austin Brashears were killed and a 21-year-old woman remains in a critical condition after six hours of surgery at Waikato Hospital. Two other women remain in Rotorua Hospital in a stable condition.

It is unclear exactly what caused the crash but police said early indications were that the vehicle drifted into gravel then over-corrected, causing it to roll and throw several of the students from the van.

The tragedy has affected both the New Zealand international student community and Boston University, where a candlelight vigil was held the Sunday after the accident. The families of the students have flown to New Zealand.

A student who was also part of the Tongariro trip, which involved a number of international students, told media, “It hurts a lot. Last night we all dragged our mattresses into the common room and slept in the same place just to show solidarity. We are just talking about it and trying to be very open.”

While Boston University is not one of Otago University’s exchange partners, Otago does share an exchange program with Boston College. The International Student Office at Otago has offered support and help to the Auckland campus and condolences have been sent to Boston University.

A student from Boston who is currently studying at Otago told Critic, “It is a tragedy to hear what has happened. I do not think it will stop people from studying in New Zealand in the future because it could happen anywhere. Also it is a wake up call because I have a car here and drive a lot.”
This article first appeared in Issue 12, 2012.
Posted 7:58pm Sunday 20th May 2012 by Margot Taylor.