Murder charges for man who killed five teens during fiery car crash

Mary Harris, 16, Cyrus Zschau, 16, Liam Hale, 16, Eli Brookens, 16, and Janie Cozzi, 15, died in a wrong-way collision

On Thursday, the deaths of five Mad River Valley, Vermont, teenagers, stemming from a horrifying car crash on October 8, were reclassified as murder after officials deemed the driver’s actions to be “deliberate.” Vermont State Police indicated that the teenagers, aged 15-16, died after the car they were trapped in burst into flames, after another driver smashed into them. Authorities say teens were killed almost instantly.

According to the Daily Mail, the reclassification from “highway fatality” to murder was an effort to block public access to the accident report, which includes a toxicology report. Steven Bourgoin, 36, is the driver who reportedly crashed into a car full of teens in Williston. He allegedly had “a high level of THC — the active ingredient in marijuana,” in his system six hours after the wreck.

Vermont State Police Lt. John Flannigan, the head of traffic operations, announced that the deaths of the five teenagers have been taken off of the list of highway fatalities for the year 2016, and reclassified as second-degree murder.

“Based on the facts and circumstances we believe it was a deliberate act. It has been charged as a murder.”

Police reports indicate that Bourgoin was speeding the wrong way down I-89 at 79 mph before he hit the car carrying the teenagers head on. After the wreck, he allegedly stole a police car and crashed into seven more vehicles.

Argus Times reports that Bourgoin was found competent to stand trial for a total of 7 charges. Though he was critically injured after the crash, he was arraigned in a hospital bed in a makeshift court room at the hospital. He pleaded “not guilty” for the five counts of second degree murder.

Bourgoin is currently being held at the Springfield Correctional Center without bail.