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Taunton man given bail after being charged in crash that killed Fall River’s Peg McGowan



Photo courtesy Jessica Machado

A 29-year-old Taunton man was arraigned this morning in Taunton District Court in relation to a fatal crash, which occurred on March 10 on Route 44 in Taunton, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn announced.

Ricky Jorge Ponte is charged with Negligent Motor Vehicle Homicide while Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol, Leaving the Scene of a Crash-Death Resulting, Operating Under the Influence-Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury and Leaving the Scene of a Crash with Personal Injury.

At Wednesday’s arraignment, the DA asked for $50,000 cash bail. The defense asked for $2,500. The judge ordered $25,000 cash bail. Ponte did not immediately post bail, and was taken into custody.

Photo courtesy Jessica Machado

The charges stem from a crash in the area of 380 Winthrop Street (Route 44).  On that date, at approximately 9:15 p.m., Taunton Police were called to the scene of a two car crash. Vehicle one was identified as a black Mercedes and vehicle two was identified as a Honda CRV.  The Mercedes was found to be unoccupied, but a 46-year-old passenger in the Mercedes was located nearby.  The passenger advised officers that Ponte had been driving the Mercedes, but he had left the area after the crash.

A short time later, Taunton Police received a call from an employee at the Irving Gas Station on Route 44 in Taunton.  The employee told police that a man has just entered the gas station bleeding.  The man was later identified as the defendant.

When first responders approached the Honda CRV, they found the driver, 67-year-old Margaret (Peggy) McGowan of Fall River, trapped inside the car.  Her passenger, a 16-year-old female relative, was sitting outside the car in a state of shock. McGowan was eventually extricated from the vehicle, at which time she and the 16-year-old were transported to area hospitals.  On March 28, McGowan succumbed to injuries sustained in the crash and died at the hospital.  The 16-year-old was seriously injured, but her injuries were not life-threatening.

Ponte can be seen on video exiting his vehicle and walking away from the screaming victim after the crash. 

Data retrieved from his vehicle showed Ponte was driving 71 MPH in a 40 MPH mixed residential and commercial zone and did not brake before the head on collision. 

When Ponte left the scene, a worker at the store noticed he had blood on his face. Ponte was stumbling and asked for the bathroom and had to be directed to the bathroom. Instead of calling 911, phone data shows Ponte instead called his mother, who eventually showed up at the scene. 

When officers found Ponte, he was on the floor of the bathroom and they determined that he had glassy eyes and was combative. Ponte himself was transported to the hospital for his own injuries. Once there, Ponte said he had no memory of the crash. 

The defense attorney stated that Ponte showed up for court today not knowing that the victim had passed away and was willing to cooperate. Ponte appeared on his own accord with his family. 

While McGowan obtained a master’s degree and went on to be a Case Manager for the Department of Developmental Disabilities in Plymouth, Fall River residents remember Peggy most as a crossing guard in her post-retirement life where she was beloved by every person she came across which resulted in a community service award in 2022.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Charlie Schofield.

Jessica Machado contributed to this report.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Gary Dunn

    April 10, 2024 at 9:50 pm

    Lock him up

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