Parents of baby killed in suspected drunk driving incident talk openly

A 71-year-old woman suspected of being under the influence of alcohol when she struck and killed an MMA fighter's toddler son in Hawthorne was booked Wednesday on a new charge of vehicular manslaughter.

Donna Marie Higgins, the suspected hit-and-run motorist in the crash on Saturday, was originally arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run and felony drunken driving and released from the Hawthorne jail on $100,000 bail.

She surrendered herself and was booked on the new charge following the death of Liam after he was removed from life support, according to Hawthorne police.

The 15-month-old boy's parents, MMA fighter and trainer Marcus Kowal and Mishel Eder, decided to donate their son's organs after tests showed the boy would not recover from his injuries.

Surgeons at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center were able to stabilize the child following the collision, but based on subsequent medical tests, the boy's family made the decision to remove him from life support, said Hawthorne police Lt. Ti Goetz.

Higgins was released after being re-booked, her original bail amount unchanged, according to sheriff's inmate records.

The collision occurred at 4:15 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of 133rd Street and Hawthorne Boulevard. The toddler's 15-year-old aunt was pushing her nephew in a baby stroller inside the crosswalk when they were
struck by an SUV driven by Higgins, police said.

Witnesses followed the SUV for about one block, then used their own vehicles to block the vehicle until police arrived, according to police. The girl was hospitalized in serious but stable condition with leg injuries, according to family members. She is the sister of the toddler's mother.

A GoFundMe page has been established for the family.

"This isn't easy to write but Liam is going to donate his organs, so that his little heart can make another child live and another set of parents not have to go through what we have to,'' Marcus Kowal said in a statement.

Marcus Kowal and Mishel Eder came into Good Day LA to talk with Steve Edwards and Araksya Karapetyan about their difficult struggle to move forward, and to talk about the importance of organ donation and the serious and often fatal consequences of drunk driving.

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