Vermont state police say that five high school juniors in Williston, Vermont were tragically killed on Interstate 89 when a pickup truck, driven by 36-year-old Steven Bourgoin, was traveling the wrong way and collided with their vehicle, causing it to burst into flames.
According to CBS News, Bourgoin — who is reportedly an Army veteran and now works at a warehouse — was traveling the wrong way, northbound on the highway when he collided with another vehicle with five passengers, who were later identified five teenagers, which includes “Mary Harris, 16, of Moretown; Cyrus Zschau, 16, of Moretown; Liam Hale, 16, of Fayston; Janie Cozzi, 15, of Fayston; and Eli Brookens, 16, of Waterbury.”
The collision caused the teens’ vehicle to quickly catch fire, killing everyone inside.
Paul Swann, who witnessed the Williston crash, stated that he immediately pulled over to help the victims, but the vehicle had already burst into flames.
“I wish that I had some way that I could help somebody because standing there seeing a car full of people go up in flames, it doesn’t feel good to feel helpless.”
Police officials were dispatched to the scene after “receiving dozens of phone calls about the Williston fiery crash.”
Just shortly after their arrival, the Police Captain Michael Henry stated that while an “officer was in the process of extinguishing the fire, he looked up and noticed that someone had jumped into his cruiser and took off traveling southbound with the emergency lights still activated.”
It was reported that Bourgoin had stolen the police car and drove south for a short distance before making a U-turn and “driving back north towards oncoming traffic and back to the scene of the first crash, hitting several other vehicles including the pickup, which was still in the middle of the interstate.”
Bourgoin reportedly crashed into a total of seven vehicles on I-89, causing injuries to himself as well as 10 more people, who were later identified as “Alexandra Harris, 23 of Essex; Mary Ryan-Lambert, 29, of Quechee and her passenger Katie Lambert, 32, of Atlanta, Georgia; Michael Plunkett, 27, of Richmond; Christopher Howland, 50, of Richmond, and his passenger Laura Howland, 48, of Richmond; Arthur George, 47, of Waterbury; Hoyt Battey, 63, of Montpelier, and passenger Elizabeth Battey, 62, of Montpelier; and Carmel Scaturro, 52, of Long Beach, New York.”
Police say the victims were transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries and they are expected to be okay.
“This is extremely unusual to have this many fatalities in one crash,” said Captain Mike Henry, who was at the scene early Sunday morning. “This is difficult not only for the members on scene, rescue personnel who responded, fire personnel, but also the family members who are going to have to deal with this after the fact.”
Bourgoin was captured, but he was immediately transported to a local hospital where he was listed in critical condition.
At this time, investigators cannot determine if the wrong-way driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
According to WLBZ 2, four of the teens that were killed in Williston crash were juniors at Harwood Union High School while the fifth victim attended another school that has not been named.
In a written statement regarding the Williston crash, Gov. Peter Shumlin stated that “Vermont State Police have been on the scene all night and will not stop until they determine exactly what happened.”
“The loss of five young Vermonters in such a senseless tragedy is heartbreaking. Vermont is a community, and today we share the sadness and loss of the families and friends of these teens. My deepest sympathies are with their loved ones. We will keep the public updated as more facts are known.”
If you have any information regarding the deadly crash on I-89 in Williston, Vermont, police officials ask you to contact “Williston office at 802-878-7111.”
An investigation is ongoing.
[Featured Image By WCAX-TV/AP Images]