GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

February 2, 2013

New charge, higher bail in fatal crash

Bail set at $50K for woman now accused of vehicular homicide

By Marjorie Nesin
Staff Writer

---- — A 52-year-old Gloucester woman is back in jail after being arraigned Friday in Gloucester District Court, where an additional charge of vehicular homicide while drunkenly and negligently driving was leveled against her.

Rebecca Jacques of Western Avenue has been held at Framingham state prison since she was arrested in December after the pickup truck she was driving struck another vehicle on Essex Avenue. The collision killed Mary Lipman, a 52-year-old Ipswich woman who was a passenger in the other car.

Police added the charge against Jacques on Tuesday, after receiving a Dec. 19 crime lab report that indicated Jacques’ blood alcohol level at the time of the crash measured at 0.22.

With the new charge, the judge Friday raised her bail to $50,000.

Jacques had been held on $25,000 cash bail at the Massachusetts Institution of Correction in Framingham since her Dec. 16 arrest after the crash. Jacques faces charges of negligent driving, driving with a suspended license and marked lane violations as well as the new charge of vehicular homicide.

A record of past convictions, including eight charges for driving with a revoked or suspended license, was used in determining Jacques’ new bail. A 2004 charge against Jacques of driving with a suspended license, with a $500 fine attached, remains open in Salem District Court. Jacques had also faced two separate charges of possession of a class B controlled substance between 1990 and 2004.

Jacques wore a hunter green sweatshirt with “DOC” screen-printed on the back in court Friday. Sitting behind a glass box, she raised cuffed hands to wipe her eyes. Strands of her straight blonde hair hung down her back, the same hair found in the spider-cracked windshield of the truck Jacques was allegedly driving on the night of the crash.

Jacques suffered broken ribs, a cut lip and forehead abrasions in the collision that killed Lipman, according to a police booking report.

Police wrote Jacques’ demeanor at the time of booking “ranged from happy to crying.”

Jacques had been transported to Beverly Hospital for medical treatment after the crash and was arrested after her release from the hospital.

James Cowhig, the off-duty state trooper who was driving the Subaru with which Jacques’ vehicle collided, was transported to Beverly Hospital, too, along with another passenger from his vehicle.

Lipman was transported to Addison Gilbert Hospital from which she was to be flown to another hospital. But Lipman was pronounced dead at the Gloucester hospital about 9:47 p.m., less than two hours after the collision.

Cowhig, Lipman and the second woman had visited an art studio on Mount Pleasant Avenue that December night, then ate dinner at Passports Restaurant and later bought pastries at Caffe Sicilia, both on Main Street. The three were headed west on Essex Avenue, Cowhig driving, Lipman in the passenger seat, and the second woman in the backseat on the driver’s side of the vehicle, when they suddenly saw a set of headlights in their lane, heading toward them, according to the police report. In an attempt to avoid a head-on collision, Cowhig turned his vehicle to the left, pulling it into the wrong lane, but the pickup, driven by Jacques, still struck the passenger side of the Subaru then rolled onto its side, according to the report.

Jacques, a housekeeper, had a business relationship with the owner of the Ford Ranger truck she was driving during the crash, according to police reports. Police said the owner was unaware that Jacques’ license was suspended and had allowed Jacques to use the truck for extended periods of time because she could not afford to buy a vehicle.

The case remains under investigation. Police could file more charges, pending the results of drug tests on blood samples taken from Jacques the night of the accident.

Jacques will return to court March 1 for a pretrial hearing, with Kathryn Cox as her court-appointed attorney.

Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3451, or mnesin@gloucestertimes.com.