MS specialist: Cognitive impairment played role in crash that killed 2 at Newton restaurant

WOBURN, MASS. (WHDH) - During the final day of testimony in the trial of a multiple sclerosis sufferer accused of causing a deadly car crash that killed two people who were eating at a Newton restaurant, defense attorneys called an MS specialist to the stand in an effort to prove that sudden symptoms of the disease are to blame for the tragedy.

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Using a walker, 57-year-old Bradford Casler slowly made his way into Woburn District Court, where his attorney Thomas Gilbin argued that cognitive impairment played a role in the 2016 crash at Sweet Tomatoes that killed Gregory Morin and Eleanor Miele.

Gilbin: “Does cognitive impairment effect Mr. Casler’s ability to operate his motor vehicle?”

Dr. Ellen Lathi: “Yes.”

Gilbin: “Was this cognitive impairment present in 2016 in your opinion?”

Lathi: “Yeah.”

Casler broke his silence Tuesday and told jurors that he had left work, where he was looking at real estate and was driving to pick up dinner at Trader Joes when he felt “weird.”

“My body felt strange to me, which has not happened before,” he said. “I don’t know what happened. I just don’t remember.”

Lathi, who works as a neurologist, told the court that MS symptoms can go from good to bad and back in just a matter of minutes.

“At any moment, things can change, so that you lose your concentration,” she said.” You can’t think clearly.”

While Lathi never treated Casler, she has talked with him over the years and reviewed his medical records.

Prosecutor Christopher Tarrant pointed to a medical visit with a nurse months before the crash, where Casler reported his cognition was terrible, and argued that he wasn’t fit to drive when he smashed into the pizza shop.

Tarrant: “People with MS need to decide at some point in their life whether or not they should continue driving is that right?”

Lathi: “No because I would say patients are often unaware of this form of disability. They make bad choices until there’s a crisis.”

Casler’s attorneys pushed back against the prosecution, emphasizing that there were no prior warning signs.

Gilbin: “Anywhere in those records did you see that it was discussed with Mr. Casler relative to his driving?”

Lathi: “No I did not.”

Casler is charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of driving to endanger.

Attorneys will give closing arguments Thursday. The case will then be turned over to the jury.

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