South Boston

Driver Sentenced in Crash That Killed Toddler in South Boston

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The woman found guilty last week of motor vehicle homicide in the death of a toddler and serious injury of his sister four years ago in South Boston received a one-year sentence Thursday, with all but 60 days suspended.

Charlene Casey, 67, caused a chain reaction crash that led to the death of Colin McGrath and the serious injury of his sister Sloane McGrath on L Street in July 2018. Prosecutors alleged she drove negligently.

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Thursday’s sentencing hearing included emotional impact statements from Colin’s family.

Colin’s mother Kerri McGrath made the final statement.

“Colin was everything. He was like the largest ray of sunshine imaginable. A boy full of life who could walk in a room and steal all the attention just by his presence, his smile, his laugh,” she told the judge.

“On July 25, 2018, everything changed for our family in an instant. I often find myself wondering what was so important that day that Ms. Casey couldn’t be bothered to look left before crossing L Street,” she continued.

She also talked about her daughter, who she described as both physically and mentally scarred for the rest of her life.

“My daughter is living a life of loneliness and heartache for her brother, her best friend.”

Colin’s father, aunts, uncle and grandparents also took the stand to make impact statements, describing the boy’s infectious smile and said they mourn all that he will miss out on.

Tracey Lewis, Colin’s nanny who was with him the day of the crash, also spoke, saying her world was also shattered by the event, both from the loss of Colin and the trauma and fear from the crash itself.

“I now walk down the street and I hear a car rev up and I freeze,” she said. “I will never heal from this,” she said later in her testimony.

The family said that it seems Casey has not shown any outward signs of remorse and pointed out that she never got out of her car to help on the day of the crash.

Casey's attorney disputed that, saying that on the day of the crash she was told to stay in her car and did not know what was happening with the children, and that later she was advised by her counsel not to try to apologize to the family.

"This is someone who's done so much for so many people, and her hands were tied," he said.

Prosecutors argued at trial that Casey was behind the wheel of her Prius on East Sixth Street, stopped at the intersection with L Street, when a southbound driver on L Street waved her through the intersection. But, the intersection is only a two-way stop, and the van driving northbound did not have a stop sign.

Closing arguments were made Tuesday, with the defense arguing that Charlene Casey acted reasonably in the crash that killed 2-year-old Colin McGrath and the prosecution arguing she drove negligently

Investigators said Casey’s Prius crashed into the van, causing it to lose its steering and sending it hurtling toward the sidewalk on L Street. A caretaker was pushing Colin McGrath in his stroller, with his sister walking alongside them, when the van Casey’s car hit jumped the curb and struck all three of them on the sidewalk.

Casey's attorneys argued that she acted reasonably and that all accidents don't necessarily involve negligence. The prosecution countered that Casey did drive negligently, and called what happened a disaster.

The defense called several witnesses to the stand, including Kevin Bui, who said that he waved Casey through the intersection on the day of the crash. He said they made eye contact. Then, he said he waved to her to go, she nudged out and then hit the van that would ultimately hit the children.

"All of a sudden, the van came out of nowhere," he said. "It had to be going at least 20 miles over the speed limit."

Bui said "absolutely not" when the defense asked if he would've waived Casey through the intersection if he had seen the van.

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