Orange County News

Santa Ana hit-and-run driver charged with murder

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The driver arrested for a hit-and-run crash that killed a 5-year-old girl in Santa Ana was charged with murder on Tuesday.

The Orange County District Attorney's Office charged Jessicah Louise Cowan, a 33-year-old Lake Hughes resident, with one felony count each of murder, driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, driving with a blood-alcohol level over .08 percent causing bodily injury, hit and run causing injury and an infraction for possession of marijuana while driving.

If convicted, Cowan faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison.

On Saturday morning, Cowan allegedly hit 45-year-old Eloisa Madrigal and her two young daughters while they were walking hand-in-hand in a marked crosswalk. Osmara Meza, 5, was declared dead at the scene. Madrigal remains hospitalized in a coma, and her 6-year-old daughter, Grecia Meza, is also recovering from traumatic head injuries.

Prosecutors allege Cowan had crashed into a center median earlier, and then continued on, running a red light, then slamming into the family.

Cowan allegedly had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit, and a container of marijuana was also discovered in her vehicle.

Madrigal's husband, Jorge Meza, said he can't describe the pain, as he also mourns the loss of his 5-year-old daughter. Speaking in Spanish outside the hospital on Tuesday, he said he's going to miss his little angel.

Jorge Meza says his daughter Grecia asked about her sister on Sunday in the hospital, but he couldn't bear to tell her the truth.

Asked about Cowan, Jorge Meza said he feels rage.

After the crash, Cowan allegedly kept driving, stopped only by a good Samaritan, identified as Beatriz Jimenez. The 29-year-old said she feared Cowan would hurt someone else if she didn't follow her and block her in until police arrived.

"I asked her, 'Do you know what you are doing,' and she and she [shook her head], didn't say anything," Jimenez said. "I say, 'Two girls and a mom are on the floor.' 'Who cares?' she says."

Jorge Meza called Jimenez a hero for stopping the suspect. As he prepares to bury his daughter, his friends and family are holding fundraisers to try to help cover funeral expenses.

The Santa Ana Police Foundation is trying to help the family by collecting donations. If you'd like to help, visit http://www.sapdf.org/tragedy/.

Cowan's arraignment hearing on Tuesday was postponed until July 11. She is being held on $1 million bail.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
accident, hit and run, orange county news, eileen frere
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