fb-pixel

Victims of Newton crash identified

Rachel Horman left a bouquet of flowers in front of Sweet Tomatoes on Washington Street in Newton.
Rachel Horman left a bouquet of flowers in front of Sweet Tomatoes on Washington Street in Newton. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

This story was reported by Evan Allen, Kathy McCabe, and John R. Ellement of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Ellen Ishkanian. It was written by Allen.

NEWTON — A man with three car crashes on his driving record had his license suspended Wednesday after an SUV slammed into Sweet Tomatoes Pizza on Tuesday night, killing two people and sending passersby scrambling to pull the injured from the rubble.

Bradford Casler, a 55-year-old realtor from Newton, has not been charged. Officials have not named him; he was identified in Registry of Motor Vehicles documents.

As mourners brought flowers to the boarded-up restaurant storefront on Wednesday, the husband of one of the victims stood in the Watertown home they had shared and wept.

Advertisement



“I lost my best friend,” said George Miele, whose wife of 37 years, Eleanor, had stopped for pizza before heading to church to volunteer. “I’m all by myself.”

He still had the Easter eggs his wife had made to bring with her to church, to make Easter baskets for needy children. She had spent Sunday on the couch gluing them together.

Authorities on Wednesday night identified the second victim as 32-year-old Gregory Morin of Newton.

Gregory Morin.
Gregory Morin. Handout.

Four employees, three customers, and Casler were injured in the crash; at least three victims have been released from the hospital, officials said Wednesday night.

The crash occurred in the busy West Newton shopping area during Sweet Tomatoes’ dinner rush, when, according to authorities, the SUV came down Chestnut Street, failed to stop at the intersection with Washington Street, and smashed through the storefront.

Desire Bearup said she was just another commuter heading home when she saw a dust cloud billowing from the restaurant. She watched a good Samaritan leap from her car and rush to the restaurant. Moments later, Bearup did the same.

Advertisement



“The whole wall of the restaurant had fallen in and trapped a waitress. She looked like a teenager,” said Bearup. “I tried to lift it off her. Her leg was pinned. Her face was covered in blood and I could see the bones in her arms.”

Screams could be heard in the background of the 911 calls that poured in moments after impact.

“A car just went full-speed into the restaurant,” said one caller in a tense voice. “I’m sure there are many people hurt. Whoever was in that restaurant and in that car.”

Another frantic caller implored the dispatcher to hurry and send “the ambulance, everything” as fast as possible.

“Oh God, please!” she cried.

Thiago Costa said his wife, 27-year-old Gabriela Moreira, who worked at Sweet Tomatoes, was among the injured and remained hospitalized Wednesday night.

“The doctors tell me she is going to be OK,” he said.

Another young employee, according to Costa and another friend, was badly injured and required hours of surgery on her leg.

Casler was being treated at an area hospital. His family members did not respond to requests for comment.

The driving history of Casler shows three previous accidents.

The first took place in Waltham in 1998, the second in Brookline in 2004, and the third occurred in Needham in 2010, according to RMV records. No further information about the accidents was available.

Newton police asked the RMV to suspend his license Wednesday as an immediate threat to the public, following the fatal crash.

Advertisement



Two people who know Casler said he may have medical issues. One person who knows him well, but spoke on condition of anonymity to protect her privacy, said Casler suffers from multiple sclerosis, which has gotten noticeably worse over the last four or five years. He walked with a stagger, said the woman, and had balance problems.

Jack Porter, founder of The Spencer School of Real Estate in Newtonville, said he had taught Casler, who was a principal at Casler and Company. Casler, he said, was a good man but Porter said he thought Casler had medical problems. “He’s a good guy,” said Porter. “This is not an evil guy. Maybe he needed help.”

Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan, who is heading the investigation, said the driver’s medical history and other aspects of the crash are being investigated.

Eleanor Miele.
Eleanor Miele.family/Globe Staff

A LinkedIn account and Facebook page that appear to belong to Casler list affiliations with multiple sclerosis fund-raisers and organizations.

On Tuesday night, in the hours after the crash, George Miele went first to the police station and then, sometime after midnight on Wednesday, to the restaurant where his wife died.

“The restaurant isn’t that big. Width-wise, they have a couple counters, a couple of small tables. You don’t see the front window. The SUV is completely to the back of the restaurant. I doubt she was sitting at that table,” he said.

“One of the officers said to me that she did not suffer.”

His wife had been on her way to Our Lady Help of Christians Parish on Tuesday night to volunteer for a Lenten service project, decorating plastic eggs and filling Easter baskets for needy children.

Advertisement



The eggs were wrapped in a plastic bag on the front seat of her truck when she went into Sweet Tomatoes, he said. She was killed less than 2 miles from her church, where she and George were married.

Family and friends described Eleanor Miele, 57, as a devoted wife, sister, and aunt who spent much of her time volunteering: with the homeless in Boston, collecting donated diapers for pregnant women, and baking for the Pine Street Inn.

Miele worked as the office manager at Tamkin & Hochberg LLP, in Newton, said partner Jonathan Tamkin.

“She was the soul of our office,” said Tamkin.

When Tamkin first heard about the crash at Sweet Tomatoes, he said he worried he would know someone who was in the restaurant.

“I had a very bad feeling,” he said. “It materialized.”

There were few details available Wednesday night about the second victim, Morin, who was an associate at the law firm of Latham & Watkins in Boston.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy,” said Hans Brigham, office managing partner for the firm. “Greg was a wonderful colleague and friend to many in Boston and throughout our firm. He was a highly-skilled young lawyer and a compassionate person with incredible spirit and singular wit. Our thoughts and prayers are with Greg’s family and friends, as well as the other victims.”

Globe correspondent Olivia Arnold contributed to this report. Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.