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Suspect in Vermont Wrong-Way Crash that Killed 5 Teens Pleads Not Guilty to Murder

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The 36-year-old Vermont man suspected of driving the wrong way on an interstate highway, causing a fiery crash that killed five teenaged friends, pleaded not guilty to five counts of murder during his arraignment Friday morning, PEOPLE confirms.

Appearing before Judge James Crucitti via video from the University of Vermont Medical Center, where he’s been a patient since Saturday night’s wreck, Steven Bourgoin — strapped to a hospital bed, with scratches and bruises on his face — was ordered held without bail.

Bourgoin seemed dazed during Friday’s hearing, only opening his eyes once as Crucitti outlined the charges against him.

Janie Cozzi, 15, and 16-year-olds Eli Brookens, Liam Hale, Mary Harris and Cyrus Zschau all died when Bourgoin, allegedly traveling the wrong way down the interstate, collided with their vehicle late Saturday night, police have said.

Authorities allege the wrong-way driver then stole a police cruiser that had responded to the scene — crashing into seven more vehicles before being ejected from the vehicle.

Bourgoin, whose condition has been updated from “critical” to “good,” was allegedly headed north on Interstate 89 in his Toyota Tundra but was driving in the southbound lane when he smashed head-on into a Volkswagen Jetta carrying the teens, police have said.

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The Jetta burst into flames, and as responding officers pulled a female victim from the car and attempted to extinguish the fire, Bourgoin allegedly got into a cruiser and drove off, according to the statement.

Bourgoin allegedly crashed into seven more cars before being ejected from the police car, according to the statement. The police vehicle also caught fire, the statement said.

Multiple victims were treated at the University of Vermont Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries. The crash closed the highway for several hours as police gathered evidence from the accident scene. Bourgoin’s public defender was not immediately available for comment.

In addition to murder, Bourgoin was previously charged with aggravated operation of a motor vehicle and gross negligent operation. If convicted, he faces 20 years to life on each murder count.

Memorial Services for Victims

Meanwhile, funeral arrangements have been released for four of the five teenagers killed in Saturday’s crash. Four of the five victims will have memorial services Saturday through Tuesday.

Brookens will be remembered at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Midway Lodge at Stowe Mountain. Zschau will be remembered at 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Inn at the Round Barn Farm in Waitsfield. Harris will be remembered Monday at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Waitsfield. Hale will be remembered at 10 a.m. on Tuesday at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Waitsfield, with a reception to follow at Lincoln Peak Gatehouse at Sugarbush Resort.

A public memorial service is planned for all five victims on Oct. 24.

A memorial fund for the five victims’ families has also been established and contributions can be made via the Mad River Valley Community Fund.

According to court records, Bourgoin was due in court in November for the start of his criminal trial in an unrelated alleged domestic violence incident. In May, he was arrested for domestic assault and unlawful restraint after he allegedly threatened to throw his girlfriend down the stairs and kill both her and their 2-year-old child.

Bourgoin’s girlfriend told police he had hit her and blocked her and their child from leaving their house.

Bourgoin has denied the allegations in court and was ordered to stay away from his girlfriend and their child. Information about his attorney on the domestic violence charges was not immediately available.