A California court has sent a woman to prison who admitted to being drunk when she struck and killed a toddler. She was sentenced to 6 years behind bars, according to Daily Breeze.
A Los Angeles County judge handed down the sentence immediately after Donna Marie Higgins, 72, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter. On September 3, 2016, Higgins drunkenly drove through a crosswalk and smashed into a stroller, killing 15-month-old Liam Mikael Kowal and injuring his aunt, the Los Angeles Times reported.
After mowing down the pair, Higgins continued to drive until onlookers managed to stop her, authorities have reported.
Police said the child didn’t have a pulse at the crash scene. The Kowal family took him off of life support the next day.
The slain toddler is the son of Swedish-born mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Marcus Kowal. The grieving father became an anti-drunk driving activist after Liam’s death. In addition to creating Liam’s Life, the MMA fighter has urged legislators to lower the legal driving limit.
“About an hour ago, our baby was declared brain dead,” Kowal wrote on Facebook at the time. “He tried to fight so hard. He even died at one point but they brought him back. He’s a little fighter. His heart is still beating but his brain is no longer working.”
Just got off the phone with the lawyers and everything should come to an end tomorrow. It will be the last day in…
Higgins was first arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run and drunk driving charges but prosecutors upgraded the charges after the toddler’s death. However, two counts related to the fatal crash were dismissed following a plea deal with prosecutors, according to the Redondo Beach Patch.
The Daily Breeze also reported that the 72-year-old, who has no previous record, faced 25 years under the original charges. While court proceedings never revealed the specifics of the crash, Marcus Kowal told reporters that a breathalyzer registered Higgins’ blood-alcohol level at 0.12 percent and a subsequent blood test came in at 0.09 percent.
“To be honest, I hope she doesn’t see daylight again,” Marcus told reporters after Thursday’s sentencing. “We can’t change her. She is at the end of her life. This may have been a life sentence for her.”
Marcus and his wife, Mishel Eder, welcomed their second son two weeks ago. Despite this, the couple said they can’t forgive the Hawthorne woman for killing their baby.
“The American people have suffered long enough when it comes to drunk driving,” the MMA fighter concluded. “All we ask is for people not to get behind the wheel so other parents don’t have to go through what we are going through.”
[Featured Image: Hawthorne Police Department/Facebook/Marcus Kowal]