A woman who fell asleep behind the wheel is pleading guilty to the charges against her after her “wreckless behavior” killed two young girls. The crash occurred nearly two years ago on December 9, 2018.
The decision to plead guilty comes after 43-year-old Autumn Harris initially pled not guilty. According to a statement from Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, Harris pleaded guilty to two counts of negligent misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide.
Woman Pleads Guilty 2 Years After Nodding Off While Driving and Killing 2 Young Girls
As People reports, the fatal accident occurred around 5 p.m. that December evening. Harris “was driving northbound on Revere Beach Parkway when her Chevrolet Equinox drifted off the roadway and onto the center median.”
At the time Harris’ car drifted off the road, 5-year-old Adrianna Mejia-Rivera, her 2-month-old sister, Natasha Nicole Mejia-Rivera, their mother, and another adult were waiting to cross the street. The four of them were struck by Harris’ vehicle and Adrianna and Natasha did not survive.
As Rollins’ statement explains, Adrianna was pronounced dead at the scene while Natasha was rushed to a local hospital where she passed away two days later.
“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. 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.”
At the scene, Harris failed multiple on-scene sobriety tests, but a blood test would later reveal a “negative result for alcohol.” The woman would go on to admit to “drinking one beer that afternoon and vaping non THC cannabinoid oil while operating the vehicle,” the statement obtained by People read.
“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 then later admitted that she also took a muscle relaxant and melatonin the previous night and only slept for two hours before putting in a full days’ work. As a result, she told police she may have dozed off while on her way home.
Harris has since been sentenced to 4-and-a-half years, with six of those months suspended. Harris will then remain on probation for another four years following her release, the statement revealed. The judge further banned Harris from any alcohol or drug use, revealing she must submit to random testing and she is prohibited from driving a motor vehicle for 15 years.
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