Students at a Vermont high school that lost four students in a fiery crash over the weekend set up a memorial and met with counselors Tuesday as classes resumed for the first time since police say a driver traveling the wrong way on an interstate slammed into the students’ car, killing five teens. Throughout the day, students wrote loving notes to their friends, classmates and teammates killed in the crash and placed them on tables alongside flowers, photographs, athletic jerseys, and a signed soccer ball. Other Vermont schools sent flowers, food and posters with notes of support from students.
“I do think that they feel hugged by the state, truly,” Superintendent Brigid Scheffert Nease said of the students. “And I’m certain that the faculty feels hugged by the state. I mean we are just hearing from everyone. Everyone is offering support and wanting to do something, hence the flowers and the food. … I think it’s comforting.”
A room at the school also was set aside for students to have a quiet place to cope with the tragedy, console and support each other and meet with counselors. Nease said the room was filled throughout the day. The four Harwood juniors and a girl who grew up with them but went to Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire, were killed early Sunday when the car they were riding in was hit by a wrong-way driver and burst into flames.
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Mary Harris, 16, of Moretown; Cyrus Zschau, 16, of Moretown; Liam Hale, 16, of Fayston; Janie Cozzi, 15, of Fayston; and Eli Brookens, 16, of Waterbury, died in the crash. About 1,000 people attended a candlelight vigil Monday night at Harwood to remember the students killed.
Police say Steven Bourgoin was driving the pickup truck that crashed into their vehicle, sending it up in flames. After a police officer who arrived on the scene tried to extinguish the fire, Bourgoin jumped into the officer’s cruiser and took off, state police said. When a Richmond police officer tried to stop him, Bourgoin turned the cruiser around and began heading north in a southbound lane, back toward the crash scene, hitting seven other vehicles along the way, authorities said. He was thrown from the cruiser, which then went up in flames, state police said.
Bourgoin was hospitalized in critical condition, but was upgraded to serious condition Tuesday. He hasn’t yet been charged in the crash. Bourgoin also faces trial on an unrelated domestic assault charge, prosecutors said.
A police affidavit says Bourgoin hit his girlfriend in the head and threatened to throw her down the stairs in May. Police say when she tried to leave with their 2-year-old child, Bourgoin got into the vehicle, drove them around and threatened to kill them. The now ex-girlfriend received custody of the child last month, prosecutors said.