Image: Allison Owens
Italian police via AP
Allison Owen, from Columbus, Ohio in an undated photo released by Carabinieri (Italian Paramilitary Police).
updated 10/7/2011 6:04:41 PM ET 2011-10-07T22:04:41

Italian police on Friday arrested the driver of a car believed to have struck and killed an American woman while she was jogging on a Tuscan highway on accusations of manslaughter and leaving the scene of a crime, authorities said.

Pietro Stefanoni was jailed after nearly 12 hours of questioning. He had turned himself in on Friday morning after police located his car and discovered it had been repaired, carabinieri police in Arezzo said.

Stefanoni, 56, told authorities he fell asleep at the wheel on Sunday when it fatally struck Allison Owens , 23, from Columbus, Ohio, news reports said.

Frassinetto said investigators tracked down his Volvo by analyzing speed camera footage of the road and green paint chips on the guardrail near where Owens' body was found — a canal close to a busy state highway running through the town of San Giovanni Valdarno, between Florence and Arezzo.

Frassinetto told The Associated Press the car was impounded Friday morning after police located it in Tuscany, albeit it far from the scene. He said it had already been repaired by mechanics, and that the damage from the collision had been "substantial."

He said the driver turned himself in after the car had been located, implying that he only did so knowing that police were closing in on him. News reports had initially suggested Stefanoni turned himself in spontaneously.

Story: Autopsy finds vehicle hit American in Italy

Calls to the driver's lawyer went unanswered Friday.

Owens' family lawyer, Valentino Durante, told the AP earlier this week the family was withholding comment.

Owens was a guide for a tour company. She was last seen alive Sunday afternoon, and more than 100 police using dogs had searched for her after friends reported her missing.

Stacy Lilly, a close friend of the family in Columbus, told NBC station WCMH that Owens' mother, Cindy Owens, arrived in Italy on Wednesday and was in shock over the news while trying to confirm the details of her daughter's death with Italian authorities.

Lilly, 38, said Allison Owens had been in her wedding and was "like my sister." She said friends and family were in disbelief.

"She was the most amazing, life-loving person I have ever met," Lilly said. "She had a love of life, she embraced life with open arms."

Owens decided to become a tour guide in Europe after touring Switzerland with her mother in 2010, a trip that was a graduation gift after the younger woman earned a degree in communications from Southern Methodist University, Lilly said.

Owens also was a student at Village Academy in Powell.

"She just fell in love with the outdoors and with adventure," she said. When Owens died, she was on her next-to-last tour of the season and was then due to return to Ohio, Lilly said.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments