Five teenagers were killed after a driver going the wrong way down a highway in Vermont crashed into their car, then stole a police cruiser and collided with several other vehicles.
The victims were identified on Sunday as Eli Brookens, of Waterbury, Liam Hale, of Fayston, Janie Cozzi, of Fayston, Mary Harris, of Moretown and Cyrus Zschau, also of Moretown.
All five were high school juniors. Four attended Harwood Union High School in Moretown and one attended a different school.
Police said Steven D. Bourgoin, 36, was traveling northbound on the southbound lane of Interstate 89 at around 11.45pm on Saturday when he hit the first car, a Volkswagen Jetta.
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Mary Harris (left) and Janie Cozzi (right) were killed in the crash on Saturday night
Cyrus Zschau (left) and Eli Brookens (right), both juniors at Harwood Union High School, also died in the crash
The suspect’s Toyota Tundra burst into flames after the first collision in Williston between exits 11 and 12, Vermont State Police said.
Vermont State Police Captain Mike Henry said the car Bourgoin hit was carrying the group of teenagers, the Burlington Free Press reports.
Police said Bourgoin left his truck and stole an officer’s cruiser while the officer pulled a girl from the burning car and then attempted to extinguish the blaze.
He fled south towards Richmond at high speed with the police siren blaring.
And when Richmond police tried to intercept him, the suspect made a U-turn and started heading north in the southbound lane.
Police said Bougoin then crashed into seven vehicles, including one he had already hit.
Steven Bourgoin (pictured) went the wrong way down Interstate 89, crashed into a car full of teenagers then stole a police cruiser and crashed that into seven vehicles, police said
The suspect’s Toyota Tundra burst into flames after the first collision in Williston between exits 11 and 12, Vermont State Police said
He was ejected from the patrol car, which erupted into flames.
Witnesses said at least one other car was also on fire.
Bougoin was taken into police custody and transported to the University of Vermont Medical Center with injuries that are not life-threatening.
Police are investigating the crash.
After Williston police arrived at the scene, Bourgoin left his truck and stole the officer’s cruiser while the cop was trying to pull a girl from a burning car, before crashing that too
Harwood Union co-principal Amy Rex paid tribute to the victims, saying: ‘This is an unprecedented tragedy; we have suffered a tremendous loss.
‘These students were vibrant members of our school community, actively involved and all with a promise for a bright future.’
She added that Harwood Union high school was open on Sunday and Monday with staff and school counselors on-site to provide support to the community.