IMage: Allison Owens
Stacy Lilly  /  AP
This May 2010 photo provided by a family friend shows Allison Owens after graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
updated 10/8/2011 11:29:14 AM ET 2011-10-08T15:29:14

The body of an American killed in a hit-and-run while jogging in Tuscany was cremated Saturday as her family urged drivers to take better precautions on the road.

The attorney for the family of Allison Owens of Columbus, Ohio, issued the appeal hours after a Tuscan businessman, Pietro Stefanoni, was jailed on accusations of manslaughter and leaving the scene of a crime.

The 23-year-old Owens was hit by a car last Sunday afternoon while jogging along a busy state highway running through the town of San Giovanni Valdarno, between Florence and Arezzo.

On Friday, the green Volvo believed responsible was found by police and Stefanoni turned himself in.

Stefanoni's attorney, Francesco Maresca, said his client fell asleep at the wheel after taking part in a long cycling race earlier in the day and didn't think he had hit anything but the guardrail. He returned to the scene an hour later to make sure and saw nothing, Maresca said.

Stefanoni only realized Wednesday, when Owens' body was found in a roadside canal, that he might have been responsible and by Friday morning, after an "anguish-filled 24-hours," turned himself in, Maresca told The Associated Press.

A judge is expected to consider whether to confirm Stefanoni's arrest Monday. He considers himself responsible for Owens' death but denies he left the scene of the crime because he didn't see Owens either at the time his car struck her or afterward, when he returned to the scene, Maresca said.

Owens' mother Cindy Owens, who has been in Italy following the investigation, thanked police and local authorities for their care in a statement Saturday. She acknowledged the arrest of Stefanoni but said the news couldn't reduce the "immense pain" the family was going through.

She urged drivers to take better care on the roads, noting that Allison didn't like to drive in the U.S. or Italy.

"If there's anything we can take away from this painful and accidental event — because a traffic incident can happen anywhere — it's that all of us must always be very aware on the road and do everything to avoid driving when we're not sure of our current state or abilities, or if we do things that could endanger others," the statement said.

On Saturday, Owens' body was cremated and the elder Owens was making plans to return home to Ohio in the next day or two, said family attorney Valentino Durante.

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


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