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Two Californians among 3 dead in New Zealand accident

May 12, 2012 |  8:26 pm

Two 21-year-olds from California were among three people killed when a van carrying Boston University  students overturned on a highway in New Zealand as they embarked on a weekend excursion to a  national park.

Austin Brashears of Huntington Beach and Roch Jauberty, a former Woodland Hills resident, were killed Saturday, according to Boston University's news office.

Also killed was Daniela Lekhno, 20, of New Jersey. Five other students were injured, according to the school.

The students were in the second of three vans headed early Saturday to the Tongariro Crossing, a national park known for its spectacular beauty and as a popular hiking spot. "The Lord of the Rings" movies were filmed at the park.

Their van  apparently veered onto gravel on the side of the road and rolled over when the driver tried to recover and overcorrected, the school reported.

The crash was witnessed by students in the third van, but the first van was far ahead, and those students went on the hike, unaware of the tragedy behind them, CNS reported.

Brashears, a 2009 graduate of Marina High in Huntington Beach, was an engineering major and a popular student advisor at orientation, according to the school’s website.

His mother, Julie Brashears, was quoted by the Boston Globe as saying he was having "the best time he ever had in his life'' in the weeks leading up to the crash.

"Everyone called him the cruise director,'' she told the Boston Globe. "He wanted to include everybody on trips. He loved having an eclectic group of friends,'' she said. On her son's
birthday in April, he reportedly bungee-jumped off the Auckland Harbor Bridge.

Jauberty lived in Paris but listed himself on Facebook as have resided in Woodland Hills. He was studying international relations and economics and minoring in business administration and management, according to the website. He was involved in the College of Arts & Sciences student government.

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 -- Sam Quinones

twitter.com/samquinones7

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