Local News

Wrong-way driver faces murder probe in I-89 crash killing five teens

By Alan Keays, VTDigger.org
Prosecutors say a man facing a murder probe in a crash that killed five teenagers while he was fleeing police late Saturday night, Oct. 8, in Williston should have his bail increased to $250,000 in a separate criminal case pending against him.
“In this matter, [Steven Bourgoin] is currently under investigation for the murder of five teenagers on Interstate 89 in Williston, Vermont,” Chittenden County Deputy State’s Attorney Aimee Griffin wrote in an “emergency” motion filed Monday morning, Oct. 10, in criminal court in Burlington.
“[Bourgoin] was driving the wrong way in the southbound lane of Interstate 89 just before midnight on Oct. 8, 2016,” the motion stated. “He then crashed into a vehicle containing five teenagers. The car containing the victims burst into flames.”
As a police officer tried to rescue a female from the burning vehicle, Bourgoin stole the police cruiser and fled, and when Richmond Police tried to “intercept” him, he turned the cruiser around and drove the wrong way in the southbound lane, Griffin wrote.
“He then hit the car containing the teenagers again and then hit multiple other vehicles as he tried to flee the scene,” the prosecutor wrote. “Given the charges Mr. Bourgoin is being investigated for at this time, he presents an extreme flight risk. He is fully aware of the potential charges he could face and fled from police at the time of this new incident.”
The judge did not immediately rule on the bail request.
The motion to increase bail to $250,000 was filed in a case set for jury draw Nov. 7. In that case, Bourgoin was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault and felony second-degree unlawful restraint. Police say he assaulted his girlfriend, Anila Lawrence, on May 12 at a residence they shared on Madison Drive in Williston.
Four of the five teenagers who were killed in the crash Saturday night were juniors at Harwood Union High School in Duxbury, according to a school official.
The students included Eli Brookens, of Waterbury, Janie Cozzi and Liam Hale, both of Fayston, and Mary Harris and Cyrus Zschau, both of Moretown, said Harwood Co-Principal Amy Rex in a statement. Rex said the fifth student, also a junior, was a member of the Harwood community who attended another school.
Ten people in eight vehicles struck by the police cruiser were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
A candlelight vigil in memory of the five students was held at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10, on the Harwood Union High School soccer field. Gov. Shumlin attended the vigil.
Bourgoin, 36, who was also injured the crash Saturday night, is hospitalized at the University of Vermont Medical Center in critical condition, police said. No charges have yet been filed against him related to the crash.
He pleaded innocent on May 13 to the domestic assault and unlawful restraint charges and was released on conditions. He had been set to appear in family court in Burlington on Thursday, Oct. 13, for a child support hearing.
His girlfriend, Anila Lawrence, wrote in a statement filed in family court in Burlington seeking a relief from abuse order against Bourgoin that on May 12 he repeatedly pushed her to the floor and pulled her hair.
She said she left the residence with the 2-year-old child and as she tried to get away in a vehicle he pulled her out of the car, wanting to keep the child. She wrote that she refused, and he got into the driver’s seat, hitting her in the head and pulling on a lanyard around her neck.
“He whipped out of the driveway and wouldn’t let us out. While going down the road he grabbed my neck lanyard again and we almost went off the road,” she wrote. “He sped out towards Essex and was yelling about how he’d … kill us both before he’d …  let [the child] go with me.”
She wrote that Bourgoin told her he would go to a place where there would be no cellphone reception and police would not be able to respond.
“We drove for awhile before he finally calmed down enough to bring us back home,” she wrote. “He got in the shower and I left.”
Lawrence went to the Williston police station after leaving the residence. “I believe that his threats are true and that he won’t stop until he has what he wants,” she wrote.

Mountain Times Newsletter

Sign up below to receive the weekly newsletter, which also includes top trending stories and what all the locals are talking about!