A 36-year-old man is in custody after he stole a police SUV at the scene of a crash that killed five high school students Saturday night in Williston, Vermont, officials say.
Police responded to a call of a wrong-way driver on Interstate 89 just before midnight, according to a press release. The first officer on the scene, from the Williston Police Department, found a two-vehicle crash and a car engulfed in flames. He grabbed a fire extinguisher and pulled one girl from the burning car.
According to police, Steven Douglas Bourgoin entered the officer’s SUV as he tried to put out the fire. Bourgoin fled at a high rate of speed and was later taken into custody after several other crashes, police say. He was critically injured, but is expected to survive.
Vermont State Police say they have not connected Bourgoin to the first wrong-way crash, the Burlington Free Press reports.
They have not said if they are looking for another suspect, but said the identity of the driver of the pickup truck that caused the fatal crash remains “under investigation,” the newspaper reports.
Local school officials have identified the five teens killed in the crash as Eli Brookens, Janie Cozzi, Liam Hale, Mary Harris and Cyrus Zschau.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Bourgoin Slammed the Stolen Cop Car Into 7 Vehicles While Fleeing From the Fatal Crash, Police Say
Police say Steven Bourgoin stole a Williston Police officer’s SUV as the officer tried to save the lives of the five teens killed in the first wrong-way crash, according to a press release.
“The Williston Officer radioed that his cruiser was stolen. A Richmond Police Officer set up at the U-turn at mile marker 77 to intercept the stolen police cruiser,” state police said. “Bourgoin encountered a Richmond police officer and turned around on the interstate. Bourgoin then traveled northbound in the southbound lane back towards the original crash scene at a high rate of speed whereupon he struck seven vehicles.”
Bourgoin was injured, and taken to the hospital in police custody.
Police said there were multiple people hurt in the second set of crashes, but the victims were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
2. The 5 Teens Killed in the Crash Were Juniors at 2 Local High Schools With a ‘Promise for a Bright Future’
Four of the five teens killed in the crash were students at Harwood Union High School, the Waterbury Record reports. The fifth teen lived in the same community, but attended a different school. They were all in their junior year.
The were identified as Eli Brookens, of Waterbury; Janie Cozzi, of Fayston; Liam Hale, of Fayston; Mary Harris, of Moretown; and Cyrus Zschau of Moretown.
“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,” principal Amy Rex said in a statement.
They were returning from a concert in Burlington, WCAX-TV reports.
The school district is offering resources for other students and community members, according to a press release:
The Harwood Crisis Team has convened and opened the school for all students, faculty/staff, families and community members. The school will be opened on Sunday from noon until 4:00 p.m., and then again on Monday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Administration, school counselors and support staff will be on-site to provide space and support for our community. We are in contact with Washington County Mental Health and the Northeastern Family Institute, and they too will be available to provide us with additional support.
The Harwood Union faculty and staff and coaches will be meeting on Monday afternoon to plan the opening school and how to best support our students in the upcoming days.
3. Bourgoin Remains Hospitalized With Injuries That Are Not Life-Threatening, Police Say
Bourgoin was hospitalized in critical condition at the University of Vermont Medical Center, police said.
He is in custody at the hospital, but police have not yet said what charges he will face.
“This crash is still under investigation and Vermont State Police asked anyone with information to call the barracks in Williston at 802-878-7111,” police said in a press release.
4. He Was Accused of Threatening to Kill His Girlfriend in May
Bourgoin was charged in May with domestic assault and unlawful restraint, WCAX-TV reports.
He was accused of threatening to throw his girlfriend down the stairs and then bash her head on the floor, Williston Police said in an affidavit obtained by the news station. His girlfriend told police Bourgoin hit her and stopped her from leaving the house with their 2-year-old child.
Police said Bourgoin jumped in the driver’s seat as his girlfriend tried to leave with the toddler and “held them hostage,” according to WCAX:
He’s then accused of pulling at a lanyard around the woman’s neck, almost running the car off the road. He allegedly told his girlfriend he would “kill both of them before he let his child go.”
Bourgoin later denied the allegations in court and was ordered to stay away from his girlfriend and their child. She told police a similar incident happened when the family lived in Massachusetts.
Bourgoin previously lived in Salisbury, Massachusetts. According to the Newburyport News, he was arrested there in 2014 and charged with assault and battery on a family/household member.
According to the newspaper, the charge was continued without finding for a year and he was fined $100 and ordered to attend therapy.
5. Bourgoin Is an Army Veteran & Works at a Warehouse
Steven Douglas Bourgoin graduated from Rutland High School in Vermont, according to his Facebook page. He also attended high school in Newburyport, Massachusetts. His father was the football coach and athletic director at both schools.
After high school, Bourgoin served in the Army, according to his Facebook page. Details of his service were not immediately available.
According to his Linkedin profile, Bourgoin works as a warehouse associate at a chocolate company. He previously worked at a car dealership.
“Steve is a veteran of the automotive industry, having spent three years in the parts department at the local Subaru dealership, after returning from the Army in 2001,” according to an old biography on the website of the Toyota dealership where he once worked. “Steve’s most memorable moment is much like many sales people: his first sale; a young family whose children were very excited to take a ride in their new car. In his spare time, Steve enjoys going to sporting events and concerts as well as traveling. He is also a live long football fan, spending fall and winter following the Patriots, as well as an avid chess player If you see Steve around town, he’s likely to be cranking The Rolling Stones in his 2007 Mercedes Benz C280 4Matic, though he dreams of someday owning a Ford Mustang GT500.”
Bourgoin has also studied at the Community College of Vermont.