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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

New tragedy shakes BU

Published: May 19, 2012
Section: News

A Boston University student driving the van which flipped over, killing three students and injuring four studying abroad has been charged by New Zealand police. He faces three counts of careless driving causing death and four counts of careless driving causing injury. He was asked to surrender his passport. He appeared before the Auckland District Court Friday morning.

Twenty-six students were involved in the van crash while traveling to a popular hiking spot last week. One of the minivans drifted to the wrong side of the road and then rolled over when the driver attempted to correct course. The van rolled multiple times, killing three students and injuring four, including the van’s driver, one of whom is now in a medically-induced coma after brain surgery. Meg Theriault, a Boston University junior, has been unconscious for more than a week following her Saturday surgery. Her family has joined her in New Zealand and plans to take her home when she wakes.

The family of Austin Brashears, 21, one of the students killed in the crash has begun to fundraise to bring his body back to the United States. The account has already raised $7,000 as of May 15.

The students had organized the hiking trip and were traveling in three different minivans to the mountains where “Lord of the Rings” was filmed when one of them flipped, killing three students and injuring another four. The university has announced that it would find alternatives to give credit to the surviving students if they wanted to return home to the United States immediately.

The university has suffered a number of tragedies and upsetting news this year: A graduate student was shot and killed in Allston, Mass.; two members of the hockey team were accused of sexual assault; serious hazing charges were laid against the school’s Greek system this spring; there were repeated complaints of a peeping tom; and a number of students were caught in possession of drugs on the U.S.-Canadian border.

Boston University students worry about how the recent press will affect the value of their degrees, especially the graduating seniors, who are immediately affected in the jobs market.

Accepted students might be swayed to go elsewhere by the negative news, enough so that the president sent an email to accepted students, reassuring them that while the past year has been difficult, it should not reflect on the worth of the school as an academic institution. Whether it will affect admissions is still unclear.