Three Boston University students who were studying in New Zealand were killed today when their minivan crashed near the vacation town of Taupo on the country’s North Island.
Police said two identical minivans carrying students were just minutes from their destination when one van drifted left going around a bend. After the wheels touched gravel, the driver over-corrected, causing the van to roll.
The dead were identified as Daniela Lekho ’13, Roch Jauberty ’14 and Austin Brashears ’13.
Five other students riding in the van were injured and one was described as critical.
Kevin Taylor, a police official, speculated some of the students were not wearing seat belts because they were thrown from the vehicle. The students had been en route to Tongariro Crossing, one of New Zealand’s most famous hiking sites.
“This is a horrible tragedy,” said Robert Brown, president of Boston University. “Our prayers go out the students and their families. We will do all we can to provide comfort and assistance to those who have been injured, and to the families and friends of the victims.”
The university’s New Zealand program, which is based in Auckland, has 50 students and integrates academic study with professional internships.
None of the passengers in the second van were injured.
Counseling services will be available for survivors as they cope with losing three of their classmates.
Nicole Brashears, 18, the sister of Austin Brashears, 21, said her brother excelled in the classroom and in extracurricular activities.
“[He] was an amazing kid. He had this dimple that could get him everything, girls… everything. I don’t know anybody that didn’t like him.”
ABC News’ Akiko Fujita contributed to this report