NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 11, 2013

Becoming Meg again

After crash abroad, Salisbury college student strives to heal

(Continued)

The business major couldn’t remember multiplication tables. She mistook a doctor at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston for her sixth-grade teacher. She looked forward to reuniting with a dog that hadn’t lived with her family for years.

Meg wobbled as she learned to walk. Therapy filled her days, including speech and reading exercises. She had to practice spooning up her food, and how to bathe and dress herself.

But if Meg didn’t understand where she had been, she knew where she wanted to be.

“It’s just like being in school,” a therapist said one day when she faltered during a drill.

“That’s good,” Meg said.

Because whatever it took, she wanted to be back at BU for her senior year.

Aftermath of the accident

She was the first victim they reached in the road.

“Meg, are you OK?”

Her classmate Dustin Holstein didn’t get an answer. Deep, fast draws of air were all he heard. It was the kind of breathing, he would say later, “where it’s like you’re on the verge of dying.”

It was the morning of May 12, 2012. Steam from a volcano in the distance curled into a cloudless sky in New Zealand’s countryside.

The BU students — 16 of them in two minivans — had been headed to Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a trek through volcanic terrain with a view of the peak portrayed as Mount Doom in the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy.

Police said it seemed the single-vehicle crash happened after the minivan drifted to the roadside.

Stephen Houseman, the student who was driving, would say later the van began shaking and he couldn’t control it. Police said he tried to correct course before the van rolled several times.

Students Austin Brashears, Roch Jauberty and Daniela Lekhno also landed in the road. Friends covered their faces with sleeping bags or blankets before the first firetruck arrived.

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