(Newsroom America) -- A United States citizen has appeared in court in New Zealand charged with careless driving causing the deaths of Boston University students Nicholas Jauberty, Daniela Lekhno and Austin Brashears.
Boston University student Stephen Houseman, 20, was the driver of the vehicle which crashed near Turangi on Saturday.
Mr Houseman has been charged with three counts of careless driving causing death and four counts of careless driving causing injury.
The New Zealand Police Serious Crash Unit has completed its investigation and said it was satisfied there were no vehicle or scene factors which contributed to the crash.
Bay of Plenty Road Policing Manager Inspector Kevin Taylor said the decision to lay charges comes after careful consideration of all the information available.
"We are very aware that this is an incredibly difficult situation which has been traumatic for all those involved.
"As with any investigation into a serious road crash, we look at three factors which could have contributed – the vehicle, the environment and people.
"We have done that and determined there is sufficient evidence to lay charges against the driver.
"This is not a decision taken lightly and we understand the tragedy will already have had a significant impact on this young man. However we are faced with a situation where three people have died and others are seriously injured and we must apply the law in an objective and dispassionate way," Inspector Taylor said.
Once the court process is concluded it will then be for the Coroner to make the final determination about cause of death.
Inspector Taylor said drugs and alcohol were not a factor despite such suggestions coming from outside the inquiry.
"Police have looked at this and I would like to make it very clear this has no basis in fact. We have ruled out any use of drugs or alcohol by any of the young people involved, including the driver," he said.
"I have met with the students and their families to update them about the process and answer their questions. Police have also returned the property from the vehicle which crashed," said Inspector Taylor.
Mr Houseman appeared before the Auckland District Court on Friday afternoon NZT and was remanded without plea until his next appearance in June.
He has been asked to surrender his passport while the court process is ongoing.
All of the students in the people mover that crashed were from Boston University on an exchange programme to Auckland. The only exception is the 21-year-old woman who remains in a critical condition in hospital. She is from Boston University but was not on the Auckland exchange.
Two women aged 20 and 21 remain in Rotorua Hospital in a stable condition. A 21-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man were treated in Taupo Hospital and later discharged.
The group of students were on their way to walk the Tongariro Crossing in two people movers when the crash happened on Lake Rotoaira Road, also known as SH46, Otukao near Turangi.
Two people movers were traveling in convoy and it was the vehicle at the rear driven by Mr Houseman that crashed.
One student remains in a critical condition in Waikato Hospital following the accident.