Mass. Woman Who 'Nodded Off' While Driving Killed '2 Beautiful Children,' Pleads Guilty to Crime
"Two beautiful children are gone as a result of reckless behavior that could have been prevented," Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said
A Massachusetts woman will spend nearly four years in prison after pleading guilty this week to motor vehicle homicide charges in a crash nearly two years ago that killed two young sisters.
Autumn Harris, 43, revised her initial not guilty plea on Tuesday, a statement from Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins indicates. Harris pleaded guilty to two counts of negligent misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide for the role she played in the deaths of Adrianna Mejia-Rivera, 5, and her 2-month old sister, Natasha Nicole Mejia-Rivera.
The sisters were killed on Dec. 9, 2018, in a crash in Revere.
That evening, at around 5 p.m., Harris, of Boston, was driving northbound on Revere Beach Parkway when her Chevrolet Equinox drifted off the roadway and onto the center median, striking the girls, their mother and another adult.
All four were there, waiting to cross the street.
Adrianna was pronounced dead at the scene while Natasha was rushed to a nearby hospital, where she died two days later, the statement explains.
After failing a series of on-scene sobriety tests, Harris submitted to a blood test, which yielded a negative result for alcohol.
"The defendant made statements admitting to drinking one beer that afternoon and vaping non THC cannabinoid oil while operating the vehicle," the statement says. "Officers who responded to the scene located an open can of Budweiser outside of the driver’s side door of Harris' SUV, and a vape pen was found inside the vehicle."
Eventually, she admitted taking a muscle relaxant and melatonin the previous night. She said that she only slept for two hours before working for a full day, according to the statement.
Harris also told police she may have "nodded off" while driving home.
Harris was sentenced to 4.5 years, with six of those months suspended. Upon her release, Harris will remain on probation for four years, reads the statement.
On Tuesday, the sentencing judge also barred her from alcohol or drug use, and said she must submit to random testing. She was further prohibited from driving a motor vehicle for 15 years after her release.
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"Two beautiful children are gone as a result of reckless behavior that could have been prevented," Rollins is quoted in the release as saying. "Ms. Harris may not have intended to cause harm, but she failed to show any concern for the foreseeable consequences of driving a nearly two-ton vehicle while incapacitated."
She added: "Her choice was made with complete disregard for the lives and safety of others, and she is being held accountable for the harm she inflicted. Adrianna and Natasha's parents had to bury their only children. When I look at the pictures of these beautiful children, I can't begin to comprehend the depths of their anguish. I only wish we were able to get a more significant sentence for this defendant. Had the case of intoxication been stronger, we would be looking at a different outcome."