Driver accused of killing woman in Lawrenceville crash had 3 previous DUI arrests

Marvin Bonilla

Family and friends are mourning the loss of a mother of three who was killed Saturday morning by an alleged wrong-way drunk driver as she was coming home from work at a Gwinnett County dinner-theater.

Police say 52-year-old Auburn, Ga. resident Lisa Cox, “Mama Lisa,” who worked as a seamstress at the Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament, died on Georgia Highway 316 in Lawrenceville after her car was struck head-on by Marvin Bonilla, 47, of Winder, who witnesses said was driving on the wrong side of the divided highway.

An accident report obtained by the Daily Post details that after hitting Cox, Bonilla allegedly continued driving a short distance before hitting a second vehicle, the driver of which had “tried to veer to the right as far as possible” to avoid being hit.

That driver was not injured and Bonilla was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center for treatment and evaluation, where officers administered a breathalyzer test after they smelled “a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from (Bonilla’s) breath as he spoke.”

According to the report, Bonilla’s blood alcohol content came back as .175 grams, which is more than twice the legal limit of .08. Jail records show the Barrow County resident was previously arrested for driving under the influence in Gwinnett in June, September and October of 2011.

Cox, who leaves behind her husband, Rodney, and three children, was pronounced dead at the scene. Almost immediately, family and friends took to social media to express their grief, anger and shock over the tragedy.

“Nothing I can say here, no admiring phrases, funny stories or offers of thoughts and prayers can take away the painful shock, hurt, anger, guilt and profound grief many of us are experiencing with your sudden promotion to heaven,” one woman wrote on Cox’s Facebook page. “Rodney said you are sewing robes for Jesus…angels are sewing golden threads for you, my dear friend. I’ve read so many stories of your love and reacted with tears and heartwarming admiration … Thank you for being a real Christian (and) an example we can all hope to be. I will miss you my friend.”

Cox’s daughter, Jordan, said she was “still waiting to wake up” from the tragedy.

She later posted that Cox’s memorial service will be held on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Gracepointe Church of the Nazarene in Loganville. The family is requesting that attendees do not wear black, as Cox would have “never wanted that.” Her favorite color was purple.

Bonilla was charged with first degree vehicular homicide, DUI, driving on the wrong side of the road and reckless driving. He remains in the Gwinnett County Jail without bond.

Crime Reporter

Isabel is a crime and health reporter for the Gwinnett Daily Post. She graduated from Emory University in 2016 with a B.A. in international studies. She is originally from the Boston area.