Driver pleads guilty in crash that killed fighter’s son

Friday, August 11, 2017

Liam Kowal, the 15-month-old son of professional fighter Marcus Kowal, was struck by a drunk driver in a hit and run accident on Saturday, September 3, 2016 at approximately 4:15 p.m. in Hawthorne, California. He was in a stroller, being pushed by his aunt, Eder’s 15-year-old sister; she was also struck by the vehicle, and received non-life-threatening leg injuries.


Liam died from the injuries the next day, and his father then made an extraordinarily difficult decision.

“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, Liam Kowal

The SUV that struck Liam and his aunt was driven by a 72-year-old female later identified as Donna Marie Higgins, who drove through the crosswalk striking both victims. She then fled the scene northbound. Witnesses followed Higgins for about a block before they were able to block her vehicle with their own cars until police arrived on scene.

Field sobriety tests were administered to Higgins. Following the investigation, it was determined that Higgins was driving a vehicle while intoxicated and she was placed under arrest for felony hit and run as well as felony drunk driving. She was held on $100,000 bail.


In November she pleaded not guilty. Now CBS LA reports that Higgins reached a deal with prosecutors, and pleaded guilty on Thursday in Superior Court to vehicular manslaughter; she will serve six years in state prison. Charges on felony hit-and-run and driving under the influence of alcohol were dropped as part of the plea deal.

British film director and producer Bobby Razak created a short, painfully powerful film on the life of baby Liam simply titled Liam. It was part of the official Super Bowl don’t drink and drive campaign.

A GoFundMe was set up to raise money for the family. Donations can be made to

The Swedish-born Kowal has professional experience as a kickboxer, boxer, and mixed martial arts fighter. He is the owner of and head MMA training instructor at Systems Training Center, with locations in Encino and Westwood. He is also the Host and MMA specialist for StudioMMA and MMANytt.