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Boston University Student Charged In New Zealand Van Crash

Boston University Van Crash

NICK PERRY   05/17/12 10:48 PM ET  AP

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand police filed charges Friday against a 20-year-old Boston University student who drove a minivan in a crash that killed three of his college classmates last week.

Police filed three charges of careless driving causing death and another four charges of careless driving causing injury. Each of the charges carries a maximum jail term of three months.

Police did not name the male U.S. student. New Zealand law allows defendants to apply for name suppression under certain circumstances. The student was to make his first court appearance Friday afternoon in Auckland.

Twenty-six Boston University students studying this semester in New Zealand and Australia were traveling in three minivans to a well-known volcanic crater hike May 12 when one of the minivans rolled.

Killed were Austin Brashears, of Huntington Beach, Calif.; Daniela Lekhno, of Manalapan, N.J.; and Roch Jauberty, of Paris, France.

The driver and four other students were injured. One of them, Meg Theriault, remains in critical condition at a local hospital, but the others have been released.

In a statement Friday, police inspector Kevin Taylor said charging the student "is not a decision taken lightly and we understand the tragedy will already have had a significant impact on this young man. However, we are faced with a situation where three people have died and others are seriously injured and we must apply the law in an objective and dispassionate way."

Police said earlier that the single-vehicle wreck appeared to happen after the minivan drifted to the side of the road. The driver tried to correct his course, and the minivan then rolled several times.

Taylor said police do not believe the driver or any other students involved used alcohol or drugs before the crash. He said he has met with the surviving students and their families to explain New Zealand's legal process and to return their belongings.

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  • Daniela Lekhno, Austin Brashears, Roch Jauberty, Blake Wrobbel

    Boston University student Blake Wrobbel, of Los Angeles, right, gets emotional during a candlelight vigil on Marsh Plaza at Boston University, Saturday, May 12, 2012, for three students studying in New Zealand who were killed when their minivan crashed during a weekend trip. Daniela Lekhno, 20, of Manalapan, N.J.; Austin Brashears, 21, of Huntington Beach, Calif.; and Roch Jauberty, 21, whose parents live in Paris, were killed as they travel in a minivan at about 7:30 a.m. Saturday near the North Island vacation town of Taupo when the vehicle drifted to the side of the road and then rolled when the driver tried to correct course. (AP Photo/Bizuayehu Tesfaye)

  • Daniela Lekhno, Austin Brashears, Roch Jauberty

    Boston University students and faculty members attend a candlelight vigil on Marsh Plaza at Boston University, Saturday, May 12, 2012, in Boston, mourning three students studying in New Zealand who were killed when their minivan crashed during a weekend trip. Daniela Lekhno, 20, of Manalapan, N.J.; Austin Brashears, 21, of Huntington Beach, Calif.; and Roch Jauberty, 21, whose parents live in Paris, were killed as they traveled in a minivan on Saturday near the North Island vacation town of Taupo when the vehicle drifted to the side of the road and then rolled when the driver tried to correct course. (AP Photo/Bizuayehu Tesfaye)

  • Daniela Lekhno, Austin Brashears, Roch Jauberty

    Boston University students and faculty members hold a candlelight vigil on Marsh Plaza at Boston University, Saturday, May 12, 2012, for three students studying in New Zealand who were killed when their minivan crashed during a weekend trip. At least five other students were injured in the accident, including one who was in critical condition. Boston University spokesman Colin Riley said those killed in the accident were Daniela Lekhno, 20, of Manalapan, N.J.; Austin Brashears, 21, of Huntington Beach, Calif.; and Roch Jauberty, 21, whose parents live in Paris. (AP Photo/Bizuayehu Tesfaye)

  • Daniela Lekhno, Austin Brashears, Roch Jauberty

    Boston University students hold a candlelight vigil on Marsh Plaza at Boston University, Saturday, May 12, 2012, to mourn for three students studying in New Zealand who were killed when their minivan crashed during a weekend trip. Daniela Lekhno, 20, of Manalapan, N.J.; Austin Brashears, 21, of Huntington Beach, Calif.; and Roch Jauberty, 21, whose parents live in Paris, were killed as they traveled in a minivan Saturday near the North Island vacation town of Taupo when the vehicle drifted to the side of the road and then rolled when the driver tried to correct course. (AP Photo/Bizuayehu Tesfaye)

  • Daniela Lekhno, Austin Brashears, Roch Jauberty

    Boston University students including Tori Pinheiro, left, of New Bedford, Mass., and Austin Brashears' girlfriend, holds a candlelight vigil on Marsh Plaza at Boston University, Saturday, May 12, 2012, for three students studying in New Zealand who were killed when their minivan crashed during a weekend trip. At least five other students were injured in the accident, including one who was in critical condition. Boston University spokesman Colin Riley said those killed in the accident were Daniela Lekhno, 20, of Manalapan, N.J.; Brashears, 21, of Huntington Beach, Calif.; and Roch Jauberty, 21, whose parents live in Paris. (AP Photo/Bizuayehu Tesfaye)

  • Daniela Lekhno, Austin Brashears, Roch Jauberty

    Boston University students gather to sign a condolence note prior to a candlelight vigil on Marsh Plaza at Boston University, Saturday, May 12, 2012, in Boston, for three students studying in New Zealand who were killed when their minivan crashed during a weekend trip. At least five other students were injured in the accident, including one who was in critical condition. Boston University spokesman Colin Riley said those killed in the accident were Daniela Lekhno, 20, of Manalapan, N.J.; Austin Brashears, 21, of Huntington Beach, Calif.; and Roch Jauberty, 21, whose parents live in Paris. (AP Photo/Bizuayehu Tesfaye)

  • Daniela Lekhno, Austin Brashears, Roch Jauberty, Tori Pinheiro

    Boston University students including Tori Pinheiro, third right, of New Bedford, Mass., and Austin Brashears' girlfriend, holds a candlelight vigil on Marsh Plaza at Boston University, Saturday, May 12, 2012, in Boston, for three students studying in New Zealand who were killed when their minivan crashed during a weekend trip. Daniela Lekhno, 20, of Manalapan, N.J.; Austin Brashears, 21, of Huntington Beach, Calif.; and Roch Jauberty, 21, whose parents live in Paris, were killed as they traveled in a minivan Saturday near the North Island vacation town of Taupo when the vehicle drifted to the side of the road and then rolled when the driver tried to correct course. (AP Photo/Bizuayehu Tesfaye)

  • Daniela Lekhno, Austin Brashears, Roch Jauberty

    Boston University student Tori Pinheiro of New Beford, Mass., and Austin Brashears' girlfriend speaks during a candlelight vigil on Marsh Plaza at Boston University, Saturday, May 12, 2012, in Boston, for three students studying in New Zealand who were killed when their minivan crashed during a weekend trip. At least five other student were injured in the accident, including one who was in critical condition. Boston University spokesman Colin Riley said those killed in the accident were Daniela Lekhno, 20, of Manalapan, N.J.; Brashears, 21, of Huntington Beach, Calif.; and Roch Jauberty, 21, whose parents live in Paris. (AP Photo/Bizuayehu Tesfaye)

  • This undated family photo shows Meg Theriault, 21, a Boston University student injured in a crash in New Zealand on Saturday morning, May 12, 2012. Theriault was in intensive care Sunday at Waikato Hospital in New Zealand after surgery the previous day for her injuries. Three students were killed and four others were injured when their minivan rolled over on their way to walk the Tongariro Crossing. (AP Photo/Theriault Famly)

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Filed by Rebecca Harrington  |