There are far too many drivers in New England that are ignorant about right-of-way laws. There is no question about who had the right of way in this accident as reported. Unfortunately he was kiilled.
IF the other passengers in the van knew the driver was not fit to be driving, for whatever reason, then they had a moral responsibility to dissuade or prevent the driver from doing so. The driver is legally responsible, but responsibility extends beyond merely obeying the law.