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Wrong-way driver gets 30 years to life for killing 5 teens

August 26, 2019
Steven Bourgoin listens as he is sentenced in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington on Monday, August 26, 2019. Bourgoin was convicted in the deaths of five teenagers in a crash on I-89 in Williston in October 2016. He was sentenced Monday to 30 years to life in prison. (Glenn Russell/VTDigger.org via AP, Pool)
Steven Bourgoin listens as he is sentenced in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington on Monday, August 26, 2019. Bourgoin was convicted in the deaths of five teenagers in a crash on I-89 in Williston in October 2016. He was sentenced Monday to 30 years to life in prison. (Glenn Russell/VTDigger.org via AP, Pool)

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A driver convicted of killing five teenagers in a wrong-way crash nearly three years ago in Vermont was sentenced Monday to 30 years to life in prison.

Steven Bourgoin was convicted of five counts of second-degree murder in May. Bourgoin, 38, has acknowledged that he crashed into the car carrying the five teenagers in October 2016, but he said he was insane at the time.

At the emotional, hourslong hearing Monday, Bourgoin apologized to parents who testified.

“To quantify what you took from me that day, there are really no words,” said Liz Harris, mother of Mary, who said it had been 1,052 days since her daughter was killed.

Harris’ father told Bourgoin he must forgive him so he can be like his own daughter, who he said demonstrated kindness and mercy for others.

“My only hope for you is you can reconcile your actions,” Dan Harris said.

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.

On the night of the crash, Bourgoin got onto Interstate 89 going south and then turned around and started heading north in the southbound lane at around 90 miles per hour (145 kilometers per hour), police said. He collided with the car that carried the teenagers in Williston, Vermont.

Bourgoin then stole a Williston police cruiser before crashing again into vehicles at the original scene.

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 he 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.

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This story has been updated to remove an incorrect reference to mother of another victim. It was the same victim.

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