Authorities have identified the victims killed Tuesday night when a vehicle slammed into a pizza shop in Newton, Massachusetts, as a Boston attorney and the office manager of a law firm.
Gregory Morin, a 32-year-old lawyer who lived in the neighborhood, and 57-year-old Eleanor Miele of Watertown, were killed in the crash. Both were at Sweet Tomatoes when a 55-year-old Newton man crashed into the restaurant.
Relatives of the victims are having a hard time making sense of what happened.
“I can’t explain. I’m devastated,” said Miele’s sister-in-law, Patricia Desmond. “I’m just heartbroken.”
Miele’s husband of nearly 38 years, George Miele, was too upset to talk on camera, but told necn he lost his best friend.
Co-workers at the law firm where Miele had been office manager for 12 years said she was just picking up a pizza when she was killed, on her way to do volunteer work at her church.
“A warm, kindhearted person who was always going out of her way to help others in need, we’re all very devastated by this loss,” Miele’s co-worker, attorney Robert Joyce, said.
In Morin’s neighborhood, shock and sadness has set in.
“When this happens in your neighborhood, by the grace of God, go on,” said Nancy McGrath, who lived near him. “I have two kids and they could have been picking up the pizza. It’s just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Morin was a lawyer at Latham & Watkins LLP in Boston. The firm issued a statement Wednesday mourning his death.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy,” it read. “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.”
The driver, 55-year-old Brad Casler, will not be charged, but his license has been revoked.
“I believe he had some type of neurological condition,” said Jack Porter, who says he has known Casler for 10 years and taught him in real estate school.
One of the seven victims injured in the crash is 24-year-old Casey Vaughan of Marshfield, a long-time manager at Sweet Tomatoes.
“She initially thought one of the pizza ovens exploded,” said Jeff Vaughan. “I do believe she was knocked out unconscious. The pizza oven actually is what fell on top of her. One of her co-workers, had at the last second, pulled her away, thankfully – otherwise, she probably would have been crushed.”
He tells necn his daughter suffered a broken leg, second and third degree burns, and had to have staples put in for a large cut to her head.
He added that she had surgery Wednesday and remains in intensive care at Beth Israel.
“She was trying to help the guy next to her while she was trying to get herself out from under the oven and he wouldn’t wake up,” said Jeff Vaughan.
Vaughan says his daughter is in critical but stable condition. She is expected to make a full recovery, but it may takes months or even a year.
Meanwhile, the family of Eleanor Miele is planning her funeral.