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Boston University Students Killed In New Zealand Car Accident, Community Holds Candelight Vigil

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 05/14/2012 8:29 am Updated: 05/14/2012 8:29 am

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Three Boston University students studying abroad in New Zealand died in a car accident when their minivan swerved off the road early Saturday morning. Five additional BU students were injured in the crash, according to information from the U.S. Consulate in New Zealand.

The students were near the North Island vacation town of Taupo, en route to visit one of the locations used in the "Lord of the Rings" films. They were nearing the end of their semester there.

One of the students injured was placed in intensive care, two were listed in stable care and two others were released from a Taupo hospital.

On Saturday evening, BU students gathered at Marsh Plaza on campus to hold a candlelight vigil and remember the students who were killed in the accident -- College of Engineering junior Austin Brashears, CAS sophomore Roch Jauberty and School of Management junior Daniela Lekhno.

Brashears' teammates on the water polo team passed a water polo ball around for members to sign and send to his family, the Boston Globe reports.

"We like to talk about 'one BU,'" Brother Lawrence Whitney, the university chaplain, told the Globe, "but it's moments like this where we actually live it."

Study abroad program executive director Bernd Widdig said it was an "unprecedented tragedy."

"Our thoughts and prayers go to the families and friends of the three young people who have lost their lives," BU president Robert Brown said in a mass email to students. "We are also holding the injured students close in our thoughts and prayers."

The tragedy overseas caps off a tumultuous semester for the BU community.

In January, sophomore Joshua Goldenberg suffered serious head trauma jumping out of a window to escape a fire in an apartment building. In February, BU hockey players were arrested on sexual assault charges. A BU fraternity was closed in April after members were charged with hazing. Also last month, graduate student Kanagala Seshadri Rao, was found dead with gunshot wounds.

"It's been a rough year," Hannah Waxman, a BU freshman, told the Globe. "A lot has happened in a short amount of time."

The Daily Free Press reports BU is planning to offer counseling to students struggling to cope with the events.

New Zealand police spokeswoman Kim Perks told NBC News the cause of the crash is unknown at this time, and an investigation is underway.

View photos from the scene of the car accident and of the candlelight vigil:

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