Hundreds of Boston University students held a candlelight vigil for three classmates killed in a minivan crash in New Zealand, including a victim from Manalapan,  as new information about the crash is released by the school.

Daniela Lekhno, 20, was killed in the Saturday morning accident.

New Zealand police say the students were traveling near a North Island vacation town when their minivan drifted to the side of the road and then rolled over.

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Joshua Wright told BU Today he had taken a class with Daniela.  “She was just honestly the brightest person,” he says. “Although she was quiet, every single time she smiled, every time she laughed, you knew it was just so genuine. It’s really hard to lose such bright people, such positive people.”

Daniela’s sorority sisters from Alpha Delta Pi called Lekhno a literature buff. “She deserved the ending that the beautiful girls always get,” Julie Hirsch told WHDH TV. “She deserved the ending that the kind women get because she was so sweet and so kind.”

Hope Thomason (CAS’14), a friend who’s currently abroad in Argentina, tells BU Today she is in shock.

“Daniela is one of the greatest people I have ever met and for that I need to tell you how amazing she was,” Thomason says. “Everything about her was special. The most kind, warm-hearted, beautiful, and fun girl. So loyal to her friends. She was in SMG, yet was the most amazing writer… She was always keeping us on our toes and was a fireball, fierce and feisty, but honestly only in the best of ways.

“Many people will say this once someone is gone, but in all honesty, she is someone I always thought to myself how lucky I was to call her my best friend. You couldn’t not love her. I can’t believe the world has lost her… I miss her so much.”


Junior Tori Pinheiro says her boyfriend, Austin Brashears, was among those who died in the  accident. She cried at the Boston vigil as she recalled how friendly he was and how much she loved him. She says he recently had left her a voicemail saying he missed her and she has been playing it repeatedly.

Brashears was from Huntington Beach, Calif.


At the vigil, students stood in a circle around the steps of the chapel, holding candles that they lit by passing the flame person to person at the end of the service reports the Boston Globe. They hugged and cried as administrators and students spoke of the importance of gathering as a community to heal.

“Carry the light of these young lives,” said Brother Lawrence Whitney, the university chaplain. “Let us remember that life is short… be swift to love and make haste to be kind.”

Organizers set out blank sheets of paper for students to write messages to the friends they had lost, which will be sent to the victims’ families.


Boston University on Sunday updated some of the information about the accident.

The minivan in the accident was one of three, not 2 carrying students as originally reported. BU also said there were a total of 26 students in the caravan; the passengers in the lead van were unaware of the accident and proceeded to their destination.

Meanwhile, police in New Zealand say three students are still in the hospital, while the other two injured victims have been released.

One of the three who remains hospitalized, 21-year-old Margaret Theriault, was still in critical condition Sunday, a day after the accident killed three other BU students.

Two injured victims — both women, one 20 and the other 21 — remain hospitalized in stable condition. The other two injured in the crash were released Saturday.

Police say the investigation will take time and that any suggestion as to the cause of the crash at this stage is “just speculation.”