An accident that involved a wrong way driver on Interstate 89 led to the deaths of five Harwood Union school district teenagers.
Four of the teenagers were from Harwood Union High School and one was a Harwood community member from another school. The teenagers, all of who were juniors, have been identified as Eli Brookens, Janie Cozzi, Liam Hale, Mary Harris, and Cyrus Zschau.
Harwood Car Crash: “It’s a huge loss.”
“It’s a huge loss,” Lisa Atwood, Hardwood Union’s Co-Principal, said.
As reported by WCAX, the accident occurred on Interstate 89 when a driver coming in the wrong direction slammed into the vehicles the students were travelling in, which burst into flames. The students were leaving a concert in Williston.
While one of the officers from the Williston Police Department ran to the vehicle in flames to extinguish the blaze, Steven D. Bourgoin entered the police cruiser and started driving south, according to a Vermont State Police press release. A Richmond Police Officer had been deployed at the U-turn at mile marker 77 to intervene but Bourgoin, who saw the officer, turned and began heading towards the interstate; and started traveling northbound in the southbound lane towards the crash site.
Harwood Car Crash: Teenagers were “vibrant members of our school community.”
Bourgoin, who struck seven vehicles, was eventually taken into custody and taken to the University of Vermont Medical Center. He is currently suffering from non life threatening injuries.
The deceased teenagers were described as “vibrant members of our school community, actively involved and all with a promise for a bright future,” according to a statement from Harwood officials, as reported by Stowe Today.
“Two of the boys were on the soccer team. Mary was on the girls soccer team. They were actively involved members of our community,” Atwood said in another report from WCAX.
In a statement, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said, “I have reached out to the families of the young Vermonters who we lost to offer love and support from me and all Vermonters during this unspeakably sad time. The loss of five teens in such a senseless tragedy is unimaginable and heartbreaking. Vermont is a community, and today we join the Harwood Union family, and share the sadness and loss of the families and friends of these teens. My deepest sympathies are with their loved ones.”