, Salem, MA

May 15, 2013

Motorist facing manslaughter charge after death of Ipswich woman


---- — IPSWICH — A Gloucester woman charged in a drunken driving crash that killed one Ipswich woman and left another seriously injured in Gloucester last December has been indicted on charges that now 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 the district court, where the maximum penalty is a house of correction sentence of up to 21/2 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 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.

And Jacques, a cleaning woman, had no license: her right to drive had been suspended at least eight times over the years.

Jacques remains in custody at MCI Framingham, the state’s prison for women, held on $50,000 cash bail.

Carrie Kimball Monahan, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, said a date for Jacques’ new arraignment in Salem Superior Court, where the case will move now that she has been indicted, has not been selected yet.

The case is being prosecuted by Ashlee Logan. She is the same assistant district attorney who last year successfully prosecuted what is believed to be the state’s first texting-while-driving vehicular homicide charge.

Jacques is represented by the state’s public defender office, which does not allow its attorneys to comment on pending cases.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.