19 May 2012

US student charged as fourth victim still critical

9:45 am on 19 May 2012

A 20-year-old American man has been charged with careless driving causing death over a crash near Turangi that claimed the lives of three of his fellow students. He has been remanded on bail.

Eight students, most from Boston University and in their early 20s, were travelling to the Tongariro Crossing when their people-mover van rolled on State Highway 46 on 12 May.

Police say the Serious Crash Unit investigation is satisfied there were no vehicle or scene factors which contributed to the crash.

Stephen Houseman appeared in the Auckland District Court on Friday, charged with three counts of careless driving causing death and four of careless driving causing injury.

He did not enter a plea, and has been remanded for three weeks.

The judge asked him to surrender his passport and not to apply for any travel documents while the case is before the court.

Mr Houseman stood in the dock with his arm in a sling, and appeared subdued.

Injured woman 'critical'

A 21-year-old American student injured in the crash is now breathing on her own but remains in critical condition in Waikato Hospital.

Waikato District Health Board says doctors removed Meg Theriault's her breathing tube on Friday morning.

Ms Theriault's parents, Todd and Deb Theriault, say they have met Mr Houseman's parents and also feel their pain.