Steven Bourgoin was headed north on I-89 but was driving in the southbound land when he smashed head-on into a car carrying the teens, officials allege

By Chris Harris
October 10, 2016 03:09 PM
Credit: Burlington Free Press

Five Vermont teenagers, all friends, are dead after police say a man allegedly traveling the wrong way down the interstate collided with their vehicle on Saturday night.

Authorities allege the wrong-way driver then stole a police cruiser that responded to the fiery, “horrific” scene — crashing into seven more vehicles before he was ejected.

Steven Bourgoin, 36, was 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, the Vermont State Police said in a statement.

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

Bourgoin crashed into seven more cars before being ejected from the police car, the VSP alleged in its statement. The stolen vehicle also caught fire, they said.

The five teenagers killed in the first crash were, according to police, Eli Brookens, 16; Janie Cozzi, 15; Liam Hale, 16; Mary Harris, 16; and Cyrus Zschau, 16.

One firefighter told WCAX there “really just [are] almost no words to describe a scene like that.”

“Some of the members have been firefighters for 15, 20 years and this is by far the worst incident that they have ever seen in their entire career,” he said. “It was described as just truly horrific.”

All of the teenagers were juniors in high school, with four attending Harwood Union High School in Moretown, Vermont, according to authorities.

Bourgoin was taken into custody and transported to the University of Vermont Medical Center where he is listed as being in critical condition. Bourgoin has not been charged with a crime, but police said they are working to determine which charges should be filed against him.

Multiple victims were treated at the University of Vermont Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries. The highway was closed for several hours as police collected evidence from the accident scene.

The loss of the five teens was indescribable, a Harwood Union school official told the Burlington Free Press.

“None of us is alone in this,” a local pastor told the paper. “The unthinkable happened, and that brings out the best in the rest of us. That is my hope and prayer.”

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Bourgoin does not have an attorney, court records show, and he has not yet appeared in court for his role in Saturday’s fatal crash as he remains hospitalized.

According to court records, Bourgoin was due in court next month for the start of his criminal trial in an unrelated 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.