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Press Release

January 31, 2018

Man who drove his wife and dog into Big Bear Lake convicted


Booking Photo: Ronald Hitchcock

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- A man who drove his car with his wife and black Labrador into Big Bear Lake in 2012 has been convicted.

On Tuesday, a jury found 61-year-old Ronald Hitchcock of Big Bear City guilty of Second Degree Murder and Animal Cruelty.

On Sept. 15, 2012, the defendant drove the vehicle into Big Bear Lake. While Hitchcock got himself out of the vehicle, his wife, 53-year-old Deborah Crouch—who had been suffering from serious health issues rendering her unable to walk—and the black Labrador, named Onyx, never made it out. 

A neighbor near the scene of the crime heard the defendant banging on a chain link fence and immediately called the police. The neighbor overhead the defendant say, "She is not going to get out of this one."

According to Lead Deputy District Attorney Melissa Monrreal, who prosecuted the case, the autopsy revealed drowning as the cause of death to Deborah. Deborah Crouch had bruising all over her body consistent with physical violence as well as defensive wounds.

During trial Deputy District Attorney Monrreal presented dive video taken by a GoPro camera that showed the victim floating in the car and the dog pinned between a partially rolled down window with his head out and body still in the car.

Ronald Hitchcock is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 28 at the San Bernardino Justice Center. He faces 15 years to life in prison.


Deborah Crouch

Contact: Christopher Lee, Public Affairs Officer (909) 382-3665 or via email at clee@sbcda.org or via text at (909) 782-5559

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It is the mission of the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office to represent the interests of the people in the criminal justice system, as mandated by California State law. The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office serves the residents of San Bernardino County by: seeking the truth, protecting the innocent; holding the guilty accountable; preserving the dignity of victims and their families; and, ensuring that justice is done while always maintaining the highest ethical standards.

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