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Reports: LI man charged in New Zealand crash

Policemen examine the scene of a minivan crash

Policemen examine the scene of a minivan crash near Turangi, New Zealand. (May 12, 2012) Credit: AP

A 20-year-old Boston University student from Massapequa has been identified as the driver charged in a crash that killed three fellow students last week in New Zealand, according to news reports.

New Zealand police on Friday charged Stephen Houseman, a junior at the university's School of Hospitality Administration, The Associated Press reported.

Police filed three charges of careless driving causing death and four charges of careless driving causing injury against Houseman. Each charge carries a maximum jail term of three months.

The New Zealand Herald said Houseman appeared Friday in Auckland District Court with a sling on his arm and was remanded without a plea until his next appearance -- set for next month.

The newspaper said police had determined drug and alcohol use were not a factor.

A man who answered the door Friday morning at Houseman's Massapequa home declined to comment.

Twenty-six Boston University students studying this semester in New Zealand and Australia were traveling in three minivans for a well-known volcanic crater hike last Saturday when the minivan driven by Houseman drifted to the side of the two-lane road and rolled over.

There were eight people in the van. Killed were students Daniela Lekhno, 20, of Manalapan, N.J.; Austin Brashears, 21, of Huntington Beach, Calif.; and Roch Jauberty, 21, whose parents live in Paris.

Another student, Margaret Theriault, who The Boston Globe says is from Salisbury, Mass., remains in critical condition, according to news reports. Three other injured students have been released.

Houseman was treated at a hospital near Auckland and released, BU Today, the university website, reported.

In a statement issued Friday, police inspector Kevin Taylor said charging the driver "is not a decision taken lightly and we understand the tragedy will already have had a significant impact on this young man. However, we are faced with a situation where three people have died and others are seriously injured and we must apply the law in an objective and dispassionate way."

With Kery Murakami,

Nicholas Spangler and AP

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