The American student injured in the fatal car crash that killed three tourists in Turangi earlier this month is awake.
Meg Theriault, 21, has been in a coma in Waikato Hospital since the horror crash on Saturday, May 12.
The student from Boston University has now been transferred from the high dependency unit to a ward and is in a stable condition.
Waikato Hospital reports when Meg woke up she was asked by trauma nurse coordinator Jenny Dorrian how she felt and answered “I want my Mummy”.
A hospital spokesperson says another staff member said good morning and Meg replied, and later in the day told her father she loved him.
Meg’s mother Deb Theriault says this is so heartening.
“There is still a long journey ahead but Wednesday is one of those days we can look back on as being significant.”
Police have charged the 20-year-old driver of the vehicle with three counts of careless driving causing death and four counts of careless driving causing injury.
The students were on their way to the Tongariro Crossing when the van they were travelling in hit gravel and rolled.
Daniela Rosanna Lekhno, 20, Roch Jauberty, 21, and Austin Brashears, 21 were killed in the crash.
The Police Serious Crash Unit has completed its investigation and is satisfied there were no vehicle or scene factors which contributed to the crash.
Bay of Plenty Road Policing Manager Inspector Kevin Taylor says the decision to lay charges comes after careful consideration.
“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.”
Kevin says Police 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.”
He says the process from here is that the case will be put before the court.
“Once the court process is concluded it will then be for the Coroner to make the final determination about cause of death.
“I am also aware of suggestions about the use of drugs or alcohol, which have come 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.”
The driver will appear before the Auckland District Court this afternoon and has been asked to surrender his passport while the court process is on-going.