Family Members of Victims Work to Change Hit and Run Legislation

Apr 14, 2016

Stacey Stevens, one of many people who attended at a congressional committee hearing on Wednesday, April 14 to argue for changes to the felony status of hit-and-run crimes, shows a scrapbook filled with photos of her son remembering his life and death. Matthew Stevens died on Sept. 12, 2015 after a car hit him in Neosho.
Credit Lauren Petterson / KBIA

Family members of people who have died in hit and run crashes want House Bill 2551 to be passed. The bill would upgrade leaving the scene of an accident that involved a fatality or an injury from a Class D felony to a Class C felony.

Stacey Stevens and other people who have lost loved ones in hit and run crashes testified in front of a congressional committee on Wednesday. They shared stories about their losses and their thoughts on the current law. They said it does not serve justice to those who leave the scene of an accident.

“There is an incentive to flee right now with the way the law stands, and we need to close that loophole so that there isn’t an incentive to flee,” Stevens said.

Stevens said she wants people to think twice before they leave the scene of an accident.

Stevens’ son, Matthew died in a hit and run crash in Neosho on Sept. 12, 2015. The crash happened four blocks from Stevens’ home. Stevens said the person who hit her son thought he had hit a deer.

Right now, defendants in hit and run cases can only be charged with leaving the scene of an accident because it is hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they were committing another crime when the crash happened. For this reason, defendants in hit and run crashes are not usually charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Missouri representative Bill Reiboldt is House Bill 2551’s sponsor. He said the bill may not get passed in this session, but he wants to keep trying to change legislation on hit and run crashes.

“I’m going to stay with the victims,” Reiboldt said. “We need to change the law. We need to toughen the law.”