A Vermont man convicted of killing five teenagers in a fiery, head-on crash has been sentenced to 30 years to life behind bars. The defendant had claimed he was insane while driving 90 mph in the wrong direction on an interstate.
Steven Bourgoin was found guilty in May of five counts of second-degree murder.
Following a day of emotional testimonies from the dead teens' parents, Chittenden County Superior Court Judge Kevin Griffin delivered his sentence, calling Bourgoin's actions "horrific" and saying it was "just stunning" he hadn't killed more people as he careened down Interstate 89.
"Countless people have been victimized by Mr. Bourgoin's actions," Griffin said, according to VTDigger. "The crimes are crimes that deserve a significant period of punishment."
Bourgoin, 38, apologized in court. "I am so very sorry for my actions," he said of the night nearly three years ago when he killed Eli Brookens, 16, of Waterbury; Janie Cozzi, 15, of Fayston; Liam Hale, 16, of Fayston; Mary Harris, 16, of Moretown; and Cyrus Zschau, 16, of Moretown.
The high school juniors were on their way home from a concert.
"You took away all their possibilities for the future," Sarah Zschau, the mother of Cyrus, said in court Monday, according to the Burlington Free Press. "You took away their dreams, and our chance to be a part of those. You took away a piece of my soul."
On the night of the crash, Bourgoin entered the highway going in the right direction, but made a U-turn and headed into oncoming traffic, witnesses said. Several motorists tried to alert him he was driving the wrong way, witnesses said, but Bourgoin kept going until he plowed into a Volkswagen Jetta carrying the high schoolers.
But his wild ride didn't end there. He stole the cruiser of the first police officer who arrived at the scene and took off, only to make another U-turn and head back to the crash site, where he slammed into his destroyed vehicle, then careened into a line of cars that had pulled to a stop on the side of the highway. Several people were hurt in that collision.
"It's been 1,052 days since I began grieving the loss of my daughter, Mary," Liz Harris told the court. "That feeling of loss will never end."
"I see a weak individual, a coward, someone who can't take responsibility," she said, looking at Bourgoin. "I do not have room in my heart for vengeance."