Just over one month ago, several Boston University students studying in New Zealand were involved in a crash that killed three and injured four others. According to police, Stephen Houseman of Massapequa, N.Y. was driving the group of students in a rented minivan when he drifted to the side of the road and then rolled the van when he tried to correct course.
Houseman’s attorney had requested that he be discharged without conviction due to concerns over the impact it would have on his career, and victims supported a discharge as well, citing the fact that Houseman was sensitive to their losses. However, he ultimately pleaded guilty to all charges, including three counts of careless driving causing death and four of careless driving causing injury.
On May 12, Eastern Standard Time, he was convicted and fully discharged. The judge ruled that he was “law-abiding” but “lost vigilance on the road.” He received no jail time but was ordered to pay court costs and barred from driving in New Zealand for six months, according to a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice.
Several hours after the news regarding Houseman’s conviction came out, news also emerged that one of the students injured in the crash is on her way home. Meg Theriault, who was in a medically-induced coma following brain surgery, has recovered to the point that she is returning to Boston. Her parents chose not to talk directly to the media but released a statement saying that they were “overwhelmed by the appreciation and kindness” shown after the accident. Theriault had been studying in Sydney since January but had gone to New Zealand for the weekend to participate in a hike with more than two dozen other BU students.
Boston University student pleads guilty in New Zealand for role in fatal crash, The Boston Globe, June 12, 2012
BU student injured in New Zealand crash heads home, The Boston Channel, June 13, 2012