‘Dreadfully wrong’: Councilor Kendra Lara blasts investigation into car crash, denies speeding

BOSTON — Boston City Councilor Kendra Lara is denying the charges that she was drastically driving over the speed limit when she crashed a car into a Jamaica Plain home in June, instead blasting the investigation and claiming the public has been misled.

In a press conference outside the Blessed Sacrament Church in Jamaica Plain on Thursday, Lara and attorney Carlton Williams said that the allegations she was driving 59.8 miles per hour inside the 25-mile-per-hour zone on Centre Street were “dreadfully wrong” and that an investigation by an independent forensics company, The Crash Lab, shows the car was traveling around 27 miles per hour when it crashed into a home on June 30, 2023.

“There are only three possibilities. That we are wrong. We’re not. The other possibility is that someone made a very drastic mistake. The third is that people aren’t telling the truth intentionally,” Williams said.

“I know how the mistake was made. Someone measured the distance from where the car turned because they knew pretty precisely where that was. That distance was I think 151.2 feet. If there was a skid mark that was 153 miles per hour, those calculations would be exactly right... but there’s no skid mark whatsoever. If you put that number into the wrong part of the equation, you would get the numbers he got. That would also mean you have no idea how to do your job and no idea how to do math,” said Williams.

Lara is also accused of driving with a revoked license when she crashed the unregistered and uninsured car, injuring her seven-year-old son. Lara has pleaded not guilty to charges of operating negligently so as to endanger, recklessly permitting bodily injury to a child under 14, driving a car with a suspended license, and driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle.

The city councilor says the car she was driving was insured and that the homeowner, Georgia Kalogerakis, has been provided with the necessary insurance information in order to make a claim.

While Lara did not deny that she has not held a valid driver’s license since 2013, the councilor credited the issue to “bureaucratic” issues with the RMV.

“I think that some people who are close to that issue will be able to understand how somebody would have difficulty navigating the RMV even when you’ve paid all of your fees and turned in all of our paperwork, how you can be in that situation, especially as a single parent and a parent of a child with special needs,” said Lara. “I’m not going to say that there was not a mistake made. Ideally, I would’ve had the resources to make different decisions but I didn’t and my hope is that my mistake does not overshadow the two years of work that I’ve done on this council.”

Additionally, Lara claims that the car belonged to a friend and the vehicle’s registration had only lapsed by a couple of weeks at the time of the crash. Lara says that when her friend explained the situation to a court magistrate, the charges were dropped.

“My hope is that that will report to be true for my case as well,” Lara said. “It’s an oversight that can happen to anyone. And I don’t think that it’s an oversight that makes me illegible for public office.”

Lara also says she has not been regularly driving a vehicle during the 10 years her license has been out of date, she doesn’t own a vehicle of her own and that difficulties aligning school transportation with her work schedule required her to borrow the cars of friends.

In July, a city spokesperson told Boston 25 that Lara regularly drove a dark gray Honda Civic to work, the same make and model of the car involved in the crash.

Lara also says her son was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. A police report obtained by 25 Investigates found that officers wrote the child was in the backseat of the vehicle but not in a booster or car seat.

According to Boston police, “All children riding in passenger motor vehicles must be in a federally approved child passenger restraint that is properly fastened and secured until they are 8 years of age or over 57 inches tall. Children older than 8 years of age or taller than 57 inches must wear seat belts.”

The child suffered injuries including bruising around the left eye and a deep laceration on the left eyebrow. Both Lara and her son were treated at Children’s Hospital.

DCF was contacted as a result of the child not being in the car seat.

Lara says that as she was driving down Centre Street, a car pulled out in front of her and that with another car traveling down the opposite side of the street, she had no choice but to swerve off the road.

“I continued to turn the wheel to the left to pull into the driveway of the home,” said Lara. “What ended up happening is that I missed the driveway and I accidentally hit the fence and went through it.”

Lara’s team says the investigation has negatively impacted her campaign to be reelected later this month and degraded her perception in the community.

“I think the media was misled by this data in the police report. I think the court was misled by the data in this police report. The prosecutor was misled by the data in this police report,” said Williams.

Four lengthy videos feature officers speaking with Lara in the moments after the crash and an interview with a man who claimed the councilor was driving “like a bat out of hell” before she struck a house on Centre Street on June 30.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office transferred Lara’s case to a prosecutor in Worcester County earlier this summer. Williams says he has requested the prosecutor to consider the new information Lara’s team collected and throw out the negligent and reckless motor vehicle charges.

“If someone is driving 27 miles per hour and swerves to miss two vehicles with people in them and hit bushes, I would say that’s the opposite,” Williams said.

In response to Lara’s claims, the Worcester County District Attorney’s office provided the following statement to Boston 25 News.

“Pursuant to our rules of professional conduct, specifically rules 3.6 and 3.8, we do not comment on pending cases. Anything we have to say on this case will be said in open court on the record.”

—  Worcester County District Attorney's Office

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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