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Woman Found Guilty of Deadly DUI Crash

By: Danielle Eldredge; Julie Montanaro Email
By: Danielle Eldredge; Julie Montanaro Email

UPDATED 3.14.2014
By Julie Montanaro

A woman has just been convicted in a deadly drunk driving crash that killed a former football star.

This week a jury convicted Rebecca Ann Padowitz of DUI manslaughter.

Prosecutors say Padowitz was behind the wheel in April 2012 when she lost control of her jeep on Highway 98 near Carrabelle.

29 year old Rona Hawkins was thrown from the spinning jeep and killed.

Hawkins was a star linebacker at Lincoln High School when he was younger.

Padowitz will be sentenced April 14th. She faces up to 15 years in prison.

Prosecutor Jarred Patterson says the jury found Padowitz had a blood alcohol level higher than .15 at the time of the crash. That finding will enhance her sentence, he said.

Hawkins' mother, former Sopchoppy mayor Colleen Skipper-Mitchell said "It's been a long, long wait for justice. The verdict finally gives a grieving mother some closure."


UPDATED 10.4.2012 by Julie Montanaro

There's been an arrest in a deadly crash that killed a former Lincoln High School football player.

28-year-old Rona Hawkins was killed in a crash on Highway 98 in Carrabelle back on April 17th.

Troopers say an SUV spun out on a curve, flipped over, struck a tree and caught fire. Hawkins was thrown from the car and killed.

Today, the Franklin County Sheriff confirmed Rebecca Ann Padowitz was arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter in the crash.

He cites crash reports which say her blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit that day at .170.

The day of the crash was also Padowitz's 23rd birthday.


Carrabelle, FL - April 17, 2012

Sopchoppy Mayor, Colleen Skipper is mourning the loss of her son.

28-year-old Rona Lavon Hawkins, Jr. died in a car crash Tuesday night around 9:30. He was Skipper's son and a passenger in the car.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers responded to the accident. The 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee struck a tree stump on U.S. 98, East of Carrabelle near Lake Morality Road.

According to the accident report, the jeep spun-out counterclockwise after entering a curve. The vehicle flipped, ejected Hawkins and landed upside down after striking a tree. The Jeep then caught on fire.

There were three others in the car. They survived. According to FHP, Rebecca Ann Padowitz was also a passenger. She is sustaining serious injuries and is currently being treated at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.

Julian Collins was another passenger. Investigators say he was the only one wearing a seat belt. He has no injuries.

Hawkins was a graduate of Lincoln High School.



Tallahassee, FL - April 18, 2012

Sopchoppy Mayor, Colleen Skipper is mourning the loss of her son.

28-year-old Rona Lavon Hawkins, Jr. died in a car crash Tuesday night around 9:30. He was Skipper's son and a passenger in the car.

Hawkins is a graduate of Lincoln High School.

We're confirming more information with Florida Highway Patrol. We'll update you as soon as we know more.


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