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Driver charged in deaths of 5-year-old, infant apologizes: ‘I feel horrible’

Autumn L. Harris was arraigned in Chelsea District Court in December.
Autumn L. Harris was arraigned in Chelsea District Court in December. (Faith Ninivaggi/Pool)

A 42-year-old Boston pipefitter who allegedly crashed her SUV last month into five pedestrians in Revere, killing a 5-year-old girl and her 2-month-old sister, said Thursday that she’s “heartbroken” and “sorry to the family.”

The driver, Autumn L. Harris, made the remarks as she left a pretrial conference in Chelsea District Court, where she faces charges of motor vehicle homicide and negligent operation for the Dec. 9 crash that claimed the lives of Adrianna Mejia-Rivera and her baby sister, Natasha Nicole Mejia-Rivera.

Harris is due back in court March 11, the authorities said.

Leaving the courthouse with her hood up after Thursday’s hearing, she told a scrum of television reporters, “I’m heartbroken. I feel horrible. . . . I’m sorry to the family.”

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Harris has pleaded not guilty and is free on bail.

Prosecutors say Harris admitted she took a sleep aid and muscle relaxant the night before the crash, then worked all day, had a beer in the afternoon, and vaped CBD oil in her vehicle before the SUV veered off the road and plowed into the children.

CBD, or cannabidiol, a minimally psychoactive compound, is not intoxicating.

In April 2015, Middlesex County prosecutors unsuccessfully tried to block Harris from getting her license back after her acquittal in a drunken driving case in Somerville District Court.

In a filing opposing Harris’s request, prosecutors wrote that despite the acquittal, “there was substantial evidence that she had consumed alcohol before driving on Feb. 21, 2014, and there was testimony to establish that she posed a danger to the public by a fair preponderance of the evidence, the standard [of] review relative to this motion.”

Prosecutors said Harris had previously admitted to sufficient facts for a finding of guilt in an earlier drunken driving case and “refused a [breath] test in Ipswich” during yet another incident.

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Judge Maurice R. Flynn sided with Harris, whose lawyer at the time described her as “a hard-working lady, who needs her license for employment purposes and who poses no threat to the Commonwealth.”

State law allows a judge to reinstate a suspended license after a not-guilty finding in an OUI case. The law calls for a “rebuttable presumption that said license be restored, unless the commonwealth shall establish, by a fair preponderance of the evidence, that restoration of said license would likely endanger the public safety.”


Evan Allen of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.