Liam Kowal, the 15-month-old son of MMA fighter Marcus Kowal and Mishel Eder, died last week after an alleged drunk driver hit the toddler in a Hawthorne crosswalk. One day after the accident, doctors declared Liam brain dead, at which point Kowal and Eder decided to take the boy off life support so that his organs could be donated.
Donna Marie Higgins, 72, struck Liam as his 15-year-old aunt pushed him across the street at Hawthorne Boulevard and 133rd Street. According to police, Higgins drove away but was followed and surrounded by witnesses until officers arrived. Higgins was arrested for hit-and-run and driving under the influence, and held at the Hawthorne jail on $100,000 bail. Police did not release Higgins' Preliminary Alcohol Screening test, but did state that she was taken into custody after failing a field sobriety test.
According to friends, Higgins spent time at the American Legion hall on Prairie Avenue before the crash. Higgins, who also uses the last name S trong, has a valid license and clean driving record. She was released from jail after posting bail last Sunday, but is scheduled for arraignment on November 15.
Kowal and Eder have vowed to fight drunk driving and promote organ donation in their son's memory. A GoFundMe account established for the family had raised nearly $150,000 (of an original $100,000 goal) as of Monday. The family plans to use the money to cover hospital bills and funeral costs, with the remainder going to nonprofit organizations aimed at helping victims of drunk driving.