Vermont Wrong-Way Driver Sentenced for Killing 5 Teens

August 27, 2019 Updated: August 27, 2019

A man convicted of killing five teenagers in a wrong-way crash in 2016 was sentenced on Aug. 26 to 30 years to life in prison.

Steven Bourgoin was convicted of five counts of second-degree murder in May of this year.

The 38-year-old from Vermont said he crashed into a car carrying the five teenagers in October 2016. He said he was insane during the time, reported The Associated Press.

Bourgoin apologized the parents who testified during the trial.

“It’s been 1,052 days since I began grieving the loss of my daughter Mary. That feeling of loss will never end,” said Liz Harris, victim Mary Harris’s mom. “I see a weak individual, a coward, someone who can’t take responsibility… I do not have room in my heart for vengeance,” WCAX reported.

Mary Harris’s father told Bourgoin that he has to forgive him so he can be like his own daughter. His daughter, he added, was kind to others.

‘‘My only hope for you is you can reconcile your actions,’’ Dan Harris said, AP reported.

In this still image from video provided by WCAX-TV, workers remove vehicles from Interstate 89 early Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Williston, Vt., after a wrong-way driver caused a crash just before midnight that killed multiple people, before stealing a police cruiser, striking several vehicles and injuring several people. (WCAX-TV via AP)

Two other families showed videos of their children.

In addition to Mary, 16, of Moretown, the other four killed were Cyrus Zschau, 16, of Moretown; Liam Hale, 16, of Fayston; Janie Cozzi, 15, of Fayston; and Eli Brookens, 16, of Waterbury.

“He leaves behind his parents who still are trying to come to grips with the fact that we can’t hug him,” said Chris Zschau, Cyrus’s father, WCAX reported. “I feel like Mr. Bourgoin deserves the maximum sentence for this crime.”

“You took a piece of my soul,” said Sarah Zschau, the teen’s mom. “My wish for you is you do no more harm to others, ever.”

Bourgoin was convicted for driving on Interstate 89 south before turning around and going north in the wrong lane at around 90 mph.

He then hit a car that carried the teens in Williston, Vermont.

After crashing, Bourgoin stole a police car and crashed into other vehicles.

During the trial, psychiatrists said that in the days before the crash, Bourgoin thought he was on a secret mission, believed he was in danger, and thought he was getting signals from lights, radios, and television static about what to do.

Prosecutors countered that Bourgoin was troubled at the time of the crash, grappling with custody of his child and relationship and financial issues, but he was not legally insane.

During the sentencing, the judge noted that countless people have been victimized by Bourgoin’s actions, including first responders, relatives, and the teens’ school community.

Laureen Wells, who came across the crash scene with her husband, said she’s driven only twice at night on Interstate 89 since the crash and had to pull over both times in a panic.

Bourgoin will receive credit for time served of nearly three years.

Robert Katims, Bourgoin’s attorney, said that “Bourgoin is disappointed with the length of the sentence,” reported VTDigger. “But it appears the court did take into consideration some of the mental health issues that were involved with Mr. Bourgoin as (sic) the time of the crash.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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