We've been following a pair of tragic hit-and-run cases -- the January death of Jenna Breen and the horrific injuries inflicted on Tim Albo in 2010. There are new developments in both stories, including a hearing for the man accused of killing Breen and Albo-inspired legislation intended to give drunk drivers less of an incentive to leave the scene.
According to Larry Feyerherm, a Breen family friend who started the Justice For Jenna Facebook page, a preliminary hearing for Viet Nguyen, the man accused of causing Jenna's death while drunk, is slated to take place at 2 p.m. today in Adams County Court. At that time, Feyerherm expects Nguyen's attorney to request a bond reduction -- something he and others don't support. He encourages those who feel likewise to e-mail the Adams County DA's office; information can be found at this link. To those who weigh in, he asks in a Facebook post that they "please be respectful of the district attorney's office and their time. They are working for Justice for Jenna."
Meanwhile, Melanie Casey, Tim Albo's sister, offers an update on her brother's health -- he continues to make "amazing" progress, she says -- as well as about House Bill 1084, a piece of legislation that was in a conceptual stage when she first told us about the idea last August.
"Basically, what it's going to do is close a loophole in the hit-and-run law right now," says Casey about the measure, which is sponsored in the House by representatives Rhonda Fields and Kathleen Conti, and in the Senate by Cheri Jahn and Steve King. "Currently, the way the laws are written, it's a class 5 felony for a hit and run, which gives people an incentive to run if they have alcohol or drugs in their system. They know they'll get lesser charges, because when they're found, they can't do the testing. But this would bump it up to a class 4 felony, which puts it neck and neck with DUI laws. And that takes the incentive away."
The bill was formally introduced last month, and is currently expected to reach the committee stage next Thursday, February 16. Casey is hopeful the proposal will receive bipartisan support and pave the way for more, and even tougher, penalties for hitting and running.
"We want to save some of the pain for families," she says, "and to let people know how vital it is that you stay at the scene and render aid. Five minutes, even two minutes, can save lives. And that's our goal."
Look below to read HB-1084.
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