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Suspected hit-and-run driver held in child's death in Santa Ana

June 23, 2012 |  7:03 pm

A motorist who allegedly struck and killed a 5-year-old girl Saturday and critically injured the girl’s mother and 6-year-old sister was arrested with the help of a motorist who blocked the suspect’s vehicle until authorities arrived, Santa Ana Police said.

Jessica Louise Cowan, 33, who is suspected of driving under the influence, was headed west on 17th Street in a 2002 gold Lexus when she ran a red light and hit a 45-year-old woman and her two daughters who were in the crosswalk on Spurgeon Street, Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said. Witnesses told police that Cowan was traveling about 60 mph and did not stop after the accident.

An unidentified female driver who witnessed the accident followed Cowan and used her vehicle to stop Cowan's car two blocks away at the intersection of 17th and Main streets, Bertagna said.

“She pulled her car in front of the suspect’s car so she couldn’t move,” he said. “We consider her a hero. If she hadn’t done this, we’d still be looking for the suspect and who knows who else she would’ve hit. It’s quite apparent the suspect shows no regard for human life.”

Cowan, a resident of Frazier Park, was arrested and booked on suspicion of drunk driving, hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter. A canister of medical marijuana was found on her dashboard.

All three victims were thrown about 60 feet after the impact. The 5-year-old girl was pronounced dead at the scene. Her mother and sister suffered major head trauma and were transported  to nearby Western Medical Center. Bertagna said the mother, who lives in the neighborhood, was in “extremely critical condition.”

Authorities planned to hold Cowan in the Santa Ana jail.

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-- Corina Knoll

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