Manalapan Family Of BU Student Remains Quiet About New Zealand Accident [VIDEO]
The family of a Boston University student from Manalapan remains quiet about the accident in New Zealand that claimed her life over the weekend.
“If there was anyway to bring her back, I would do everything in my power,” Daniela Lekhno's father Anatoly Lekhno, told the New York Daily News. “No words can . . . I’m sorry, I don’t want to talk about it,” he said as a tear ran down his face.
Anatoly Lekhno said his daughter would be buried after her body is returned to the United States this week.
A student traveling in another van described the accident to the Boston Herald. “We saw people lying in the road and saw wounded people and just felt kind of helpless,” said Evan White. “Our first impulse was to do whatever we could, but everyone had a sense of helplessness. I helped people away from the van. Others ran to a house to get help.”
Boston University said 26 students were traveling in three minivans on their way to walk the Tongariro Crossing, a hike across a volcanic crater that is rated as one of New Zealand's most spectacular.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand university hosting U.S. students who were involved in the crash said that they discourage international students from driving and will ratchet up those warnings in the future.
David Baker, director of Auckland University's international office, said he intends to step up
warnings for international students not to drive because they may be unfamiliar with driving on the left side of the road or local conditions. "It's plainly riskier than other forms of travel," he said. "The students, of course, are anxious to get out and see as much of the country as possible."
Baker said the university discourages students from driving during orientation seminars, encouraging them to instead consider alternatives like buses.
One of the minivans drifted to the side of the road around 7:30 a.m., then rolled when the driver tried to correct course near the North Island vacation town of Taupo, New Zealand police said.
New Zealand police official Kevin Taylor said it was unclear why the van drifted to the side of the road. He said some students were thrown from the vehicle, indicating they may not have been wearing seat belts. An investigation into the accident is going to take several days, he said Monday.
Todd and Deb Theriault of Boston said in a statement that their 21-year-old daughter, Meg, suffered a serious head injury, a broken right arm and grazes over her body. They say she is getting "the best care" at Waikato Hospital in New Zealand.
Four others also were injured in the Saturday crash. Two have been released from the hospital. Two others were in stable condition.
The country's prime minister, John Key, called the crash "a great tragedy" and sent his sympathies to the families. The students were heading to Tongariro Crossing for a hike.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.