On a clear, warm Saturday night, several hundred candles flickered in front of Marsh Chapel on the Boston University campus. They were held in the hands of friends, roommates, fellow students and professors of the three undergraduates who were killed Saturday in a car crash in New Zealand.
The students killed were enrolled in the study abroad program and were headed for a hiking expedition in a national park with a larger group of BU students, when their van rolled over. Their death coincides with next weekend's commencement and the start of summer break.
“We know these students were alive with hopes and dreams and potential and capacity, all dashed," observed University President Robert Brown.
Young spirits lost, he pointed out, in a spectacular setting for the making of "Lord of the Rings," itself the symbol of energy and imagination. The pain of loss was palpable.
“And I called my voicemail praying there would be some old message from you," said Tori Pinheiro, the girlfriend of one of the victims.
Pinheiro called accident victim Austin Brashears the love of her life —- a 21-year-old Californian surfer and poet who'd written her that nothing could remove the stroke of a pen. At the vigil, she read Brashears' words.
“Whether they be found on a page when the light falls just right, through the trees like the midday sun, or in our hearts engraved and untouchable," Pinheiro read.
Twenty-one-year-old Roch Jauberty was saluted by classmate Blake Wrobel for living the life he wanted to live.
“Roch was there because… he was living his dreams,” Wrobel said.
Students cried, hugged each other and held their candles long after the formal service ended.
In talking about her friend, the late Daniela Lekhno, classmate Julie Hirsch expressed the consensus of life stolen.
“She deserved the ending that the beautiful women get because she was so beautiful," Hirsch said. "She deserved the ending the kind women get because she was so sweet and so kind.”
A fourth student, junior Margaret Theriault of Newburyport, was airlifted from the crash scene. She was initially reported to be in critical condition but University officials say they have been informed her condition has improved.
This program aired on May 13, 2012.