The driver of a car that crashed into the Newton Sweet Tomatoes restaurant in March, killing two people and injuring several others, was released with the condition that he not drive a motor vehicle, according to a statement from the Middlesex District Attorney's office.
Bradford Casler, 55, pleaded not guilty to two counts of motor vehicle homicide and one count of operating a motor vehicle to endanger at his arraignment in Middlesex Superior Court on Monday.
Casler appeared to have never applied his brakes as he allegedly exceeded the speed limit, crossed marked lanes, went through a red light and struck two other vehicles before crashing into the restaurant front, DA Marian Ryan said in a statement.
Casler told police that he suffers from multiple sclerosis but officials said there is no indication that the condition was connected to the cause of the crash.
The crash occurred on March 1, 2016 at about 6:12 p.m. Several witnesses reported to police that they observed the vehicle, a Volkswagen Touareg SUV, traveling at a high speed.
Casler allegedly reported that he was unable to push the brake pedal down and that the pedal was stuck. Witnesses on scene said that the brake lights were not illuminated and there was no indication that he applied the brakes before the crash, according to the DA's office.
Massachusetts State Police Collision Analysis (CARS) and Reconstruction Section as well as a product liaison engineer for Volkswagen examined the SUV after the crash. It was found to have no pre-impact defects that would have contributed to the collision and the braking system was said to be fully functional.
Further examination found that the vehicle's throttle position was "nearly fully engaged" at the time of the crash, consistent with the driver pressing down on the gas, officials said.
Gregory D. Morin, 32, of Newton, and Eleanor Miele, 57, of Watertown, were both pronounced dead at the scene and seven other individuals sustained serious injuries. Casler's driver's license was revoked as an immediate threat following the incident.
Clerk Magistrate Michael Sullivan ordered Casler released on personal recognizance with the condition he not drive a motor vehicle. The case returns to court Thursday, Sept. 22 for a hearing concerning if the records related to the case will be made public.