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May 15, 2013

Woman indicted, faces manslaughter charge in DUI crash

A Gloucester woman charged in an Essex Avenue drunken driving crash that killed one Ipswich woman and left another seriously injured last December has now been indicted in Superior Court on charges that include manslaughter.

If convicted, Rebecca Ann Jacques, 52, could face up to 15 years in prison on the manslaughter charge alone.

In indictments handed up Monday afternoon by an Essex County grand jury, Jacques is also charged with motor vehicle homicide while driving drunk, drunken driving causing serious bodily injury, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury, driving to endanger and driving after license suspension, subsequent offense.

The indictments move the case to Salem Superior Court, where judges have the authority to impose state prison terms, unlike in Gloucester District Court, where the maximum penalty is a house of correction sentence of up to 2 1/2 years.

Jacques, who had no license, was at the wheel of a borrowed pickup truck on the evening of Dec. 15, when she veered into the oncoming lane of traffic on Essex Avenue in Gloucester.

James Cowhig, an off-duty state police lieutenant, was driving in that lane with two passengers, Mary Lipman, 52, and Martha Frost, both of Ipswich.

Cowhig swerved left in an attempt to avoid Jacques. But Jacques, at the last second, veered back into her own lane, colliding with the side of the Subaru that Cowhig was driving.

Lipman was killed and Frost seriously injured. Cowhig was also treated for less serious injuries.

Jacques was also taken to Addison Gilbert Hospital, where police seized a sample of her blood, which was tested. Police determined that her blood alcohol level was .22, nearly three times the legal limit of .08, at the time of the crash.

Court documents show that Jacques, who works as a cleaning woman, had her right to drive suspended at least eight times over the years.

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