Norfolk County prosecutors on Tuesday said felony indictments had been handed up against two drivers involved in a devastating February crash in Needham that claimed the lives of two high school athletes, who were fatally struck while walking across the street.
The defendants, Robert Berry, 65, of Needham, and Dania Antoine-Guiteau, 52, of Wellesley, were driving separate vehicles during the Feb. 10 crash that killed Needham High School juniors Talia Newfield, 16, and Adrienne Garrido, 17, who were hit as they crossed Webster Street near their school, according to District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey’s office.
A grand jury indicted Berry on a charge of motor vehicle homicide and two counts of aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, Morrissey’s office said in a statement. Antoine-Guiteau was indicted on charges of manslaughter and negligent motor vehicle homicide.
An arraignment date in Norfolk Superior Court hasn’t been set. Their lawyers couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Newfield’s family responded to the news with a strongly worded statement.
“Talia and Adrienne were heading to dinner shortly after 6:00 pm on a Saturday night, walking in a crosswalk on Webster Street behind Needham High School — the second crosswalk that Mr. Berry and Ms. Antoine-Guiteau sped through on their way to wherever they were going — when our daughters were run down in criminal acts,” the Newfield family said.
A spokesman for Morrissey declined to comment on the basis for the charges or specific details on the crash.
Prosecutors said in the release that the teens were “walking on Webster Street when they were struck, not far from their high school.” Authorities have previously described the two vehicles involved in the crash as a Cadillac sedan and Nissan Sentra and said both drivers remained at the scene.
The Newfields said in their statement that by “bringing these charges today, and in their statements to us, the DA and the police have made it clear that Adrienne and Talia were doing everything right, and that the Commonwealth will seek justice for our daughters.”
The family thanked law enforcement officials for their work on the case and said “informing parents of their child’s death, and dealing with bereaved parents over the subsequent months is difficult and stressful. We appreciate Detective Brian [Gallerini], (Needham Police) Chief John Schlittler and especially Lieutenant John Kraemer, who came into our house that horrific evening with sorrow, grace and dignity and told us what had happened, took us to the hospital, and stayed with us for several hours.”
In addition, the Newfields described Talia as “a wonderful person — righteous, smart, artistic, loving to her family and friends, helpful to those around her, and so very beautiful. Talia passed through our lives for sixteen years with happiness, smiles, colorful style and humor. We love her so much, and we miss her every minute of every day. We are filled with anguish, despair and sadness; our lives are changed forever; we do not know how to carry on without Talia, and we struggle to get through each day.”
The family also had a message for Talia’s grieving friends.
“To Talia’s friends, classmates and camp buddies, we ask that you please continue to write down what Talia meant to you and share your memories with us so that we can continue to build our memories,” the Newfields wrote. “We will continue to miss, love, and honor Talia every day.”
Garrido’s family couldn’t be reached for comment.
In a notice published in The Boston Globe shortly after the crash, her family recalled her as a “sweet, thoughtful girl, full of life and light; she touched the lives of everyone she met. Compassionate friend, National Honor Society student, and cross-country co-captain.”
Garrido’s family also included a response she had written to a classroom prompt asking students “who am I?” Garrido answered, “I am a hardworking student with an optimistic view on life who is half white, half Latina, a cross country and track runner, a friend, a daughter, and a sister.”
Garrido and Newfield ran for the school’s cross-country team for three seasons. Garrido also participated in indoor and outdoor track, said Daniel Lee, Needham High’s athletic director, shortly after the crash. At a meet soon after the tragedy, the indoor track team wore black-and-white ribbons with “TN & AG” written on them to honor the girls, who were also best friends.
“Over the past 164 days, we have received so much from our community,” the Newfields wrote Tuesday in their statement. “[F]rom our relatives, friends and neighbors, colleagues, Temple Aliyah, Needham High School, Camp Tevya, the JCC and many other institutions, from people we did not previously know, and from people who we may never meet. You have helped carry us through this terrible time with food, love and countless kindnesses, and we are very, very grateful.”