A Boston woman was sentenced to serve 4 years in jail after she pleaded guilty to charges in connection with a 2018 crash in Revere that claimed the lives of two young sisters, the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office said.
Harris, 43, of Beacon Hill, appeared via Zoom for a change of plea hearing Tuesday in front of a Suffolk Superior Court judge.
Harris is the driver who struck and killed 5-year-old Adrianna Mejia-Rivera and her 2-month-old baby sister Natasha Nicole Mejia-Rivera in Revere in 2018.
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins’ office said Harris pleaded guilty to two counts of negligent misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide.
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Linda Giles sentenced Harris to a total term of 4-and-a-half years in a jail, six months suspended, and 4 years of probation following her release.
While on probation, Harris cannot drive and will lose her license for 15 years. She must also remain alcohol and drug-free as she will be subjected to random testing by the Massachusetts Probation Department.
Harris was also ordered to attend and complete the Brains at Risk program, which brings awareness to the devastating effects of traumatic brain injuries.
Second Assistant District Attorney Masai King told the court that Harris was driving northbound on Revere Beach Parkway shortly after 5 p.m. on Dec. 9, 2018, when her 2015 Chevy Equinox left the roadway and traveled onto the center median where the two victims, their mother, another adult, and a 2-year-old child were waiting for the walk signal to cross the street.
Adrianna, the 5-year-old girl, died at the scene. Her 2-month-old sister, Natasha, was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital where she died two days later.
“The defendant made statements admitting to drinking one beer that afternoon and vaping non-THC cannabinoid oil while operating the vehicle,” the district attorney’s office said. “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.”
Harris also told investigators she had taken a muscle relaxant and melatonin the previous night and had only slept for two hours before performing a full day of work before the crash.
“She admitted that she may have ‘nodded off’ while driving,” authorities said. “In addition, she failed a series of field sobriety tests administered at the scene of the crash and at the Revere State Police barracks.”
A drug recognition expert evaluated Harris and determined that she did not exhibit any signs of intoxication. An analysis of blood drawn from Harris after the crash also yielded a negative result for alcohol, the district attorney’s office said.
“Two beautiful children are gone as a result of reckless behavior that could have been prevented. 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,” Rollins said. “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.”
Rollins added, “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.”