Woman Charged in Hawthorne DUI Crash That Killed MMA Fighter’s Baby Pleads Not Guilty: DA

A 72-year-old woman suspected of being under the influence when she fatally struck a 15-month-old boy in a stroller before trying to flee the scene has been charged in the case, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

Donna Marie Higgins was arrested by the Hathworne Police Department for alleged DUI and hit-and-run in a crash that injured a baby and teenager. (Credit: Hawthorne Police Department)

Donna Marie Higgins was arrested by the Hawthorne Police Department for alleged DUI and hit-and-run in a crash that injured a baby and teenager. (Credit: Hawthorne Police Department)

The charges against Donna Marie Higgins — filed on Nov. 10 — included gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage causing injury, driving with a .08 percent or more blood alcohol content causing injury, and hit-and-run driving resulting in death or serious injury to another person, the DA’s office stated in a news release.

She pleaded not guilty to the charges in court Tuesday, and is due back in the Airport Branch of L.A. County Superior Court on Jan. 12.

Higgins was behind the wheel of her SUV on Sept. 3 when she allegedly struck Liam Kowal — son of local mixed martial arts fighter Marcus Kowal — and his 15-year-old aunt, who was pushing the child’s stroller across the street at Hawthorne Boulevard and 133th Street, authorities said at the time.

The driver allegedly continued on until her vehicle was blocked a short distance later by several people at the scene.

Higgins was first booked on suspicion of hit-and-run and drunk driving — both felonies — before she was rearrested on an additional charge of vehicular manslaughter several days after the fatal collision, according to police.

If convicted of the charges, Higgins could be sentenced to up to 12 years in state prison, according to prosecutors.

Liam Mikael Kowal is seen with his family in a photo posted to a GoFundMe page.

Liam Mikael Kowal is seen with his family in a photo posted to a GoFundMe page.