She had just started kindergarten at the Garfield School this past September, and on Sunday night, her life was cut short by the driver of a vehicle allegedly driving impaired.
Adrianna Mejia-Rivera, 5, was struck and killed on the scene as she and her family tried to cross Winthrop Ave. near the opening of Suffolk Downs.
Also injured were two adult females, a 2-month old baby girl and another child.
An SUV driven by Autumn L. Harris, 42, of 19 Myrtle St., Boston, apparently jumped the curb, and struck the group as they waited in the middle of the crosswalk to proceed toward Northshore Road.
Outside of Chelsea court Monday, Harris’ aunt tearfully said her niece had allegedly taken Flexeril, a muscle relaxer, prior to driving. Harris herself admitted to drinking a beer and vaping CBD oil before driving. CBD is a cannabis product, but contains no psycho-active effects.
In Chelsea District Court Harris was charged with one count of motor vehicle homicide and negligent operation of a motor vehicle. Harris, who is employed as a pipefitter, also stated she had also taken melatonin prior to driving vehicle. Additional charges may be filed as a result of continuing investigation.
Judge Matthew Machera imposed $10,000 cash bail for Harris, the amount recommended by Assistant District Attorney Masai King. Harris was ordered to remain drug- and alcohol-free if she posts bail.
Harris is to be back in court Jan. 10 with Attorney Jeff Miller.
The continuing investigation will include completion of the crash reconstruction as well as analysis of physical, forensic, and medical evidence. Investigators will also review witness statements and consider the test results, still-pending, of an examination of Harris done on Sunday by a North Andover police officer certified as a drug recognition expert.
According the State Police spokesman David Procopio, the preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 4:55 p.m., the 2015 Chevrolet Equinox being operated by Harris veered off the roadway on Route 145 in the vicinity of North Shore Road.
The vehicle struck the five pedestrians — two adult women, a female child, a female infant, and a toddler — as they stood on a sidewalk inside the median strip that divides both sides of Route 145. The resulting impact projected the victims and scattered debris throughout the grass median.
One 27-year-old woman was taken to MGH with non-life-threatening injuries. A 2-year-old child and a second adult female were taken to MGH with minor injuries and a 2-month old girl was taken to MGH with life-threatening injuries and is in critical condition as of press time and is in the intensive care unit. A 40-year-old female passenger in the vehicle was also taken to MGH with potential minor injuries.
The continuing investigation is being conducted by Troop A of the Massachusetts State Police, the State Police Detective Unit for Suffolk County, and the Suffolk District Attorney’s office, with assistance from the State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section and the State Police Crime Scene Services Section.
At the Garfield School students were sent home with a letter explaining what had happened and how to talk to their children about the loss.
“She was a wonderful little girl,” said Superintendent of Schools Dianne Kelly.
“We will always remember Adriana’s smiles and beautiful personality,” said Garfield Principal Corbin Coutts
Coutts shared these tips in speaking about tragic situations to children
“Your child may have questions and worries about this loss. The following may be helpful as you talk with your child:” Kelly said.
Tell the truth. Talk about death vs. “going to sleep.”
Allow for your child to talk about feelings. If this is the first loss your child has experienced, your child may not know how to respond and will be looking for your guidance.
Affirm all expressions. It’s okay to express feelings honestly. Tolerate the expressions rather than dismissing them or discouraging the expressions of feelings.
Encourage written expressions such as notes, letters, pictures to the family etc.
Reaffirm that your child is safe and that your child is loved.
Affirm that your child’s reaction is normal and you understand the way the child feels.
Watch for signs of trouble such as aggression, withdrawal etc.
Help the children return to as normal of a routine as possible.
Kelly said four counselors have been on hand at the Garfield School to help students and teachers deal with the loss.
“All of us, in our own way, try to make sense of death, particularly the accidental death of a child. I know you join me in extending our heartfelt sympathy, thoughts and prayers to Adriana’s family,” Coutts said.