In light of a fatal Hoboken hit-and-run accident where 21-year-old Zackhary Simmons was killed in June, Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro (D-33) has introduced a bill that would establish an alert system for these types of situations.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The legislation (A-4184) aims to aid law enforcement in pursuit of a fleeing hit-and-run driver by publishing information on road signs, to state employees, law enforcement cell phones and to the media (similar to AMBER and Silver Alerts).
“I hope this bill reminds drivers thinking of fleeing an accident that the whole state will be looking for you, and you will be caught,” Chaparro said in a statement.
“I want to thank the Simmons family for working so hard on this bill and sharing their time and inspiring me to craft this legislation to honor Zack and encourage other drivers to stop and help an injured person instead of cowardly fleeing a scene.”
Rickey Simmons, Zack’s father, and Rickey’s fiancée, Jennifer Jordan, expressed their gratitude for someone honoring their loved one’s memory.
“In his short 21 years on earth, Zackhary touched and impacted the lives of many for a lifetime. When you met him you were instantly drawn to him, feeling like you knew him forever and wanting to know more,” the couple said in a joint statement.
“One of his best friends said Zack literally had two goals in life: to take care of his brother who has autism, and to make his parents proud. He did just that and more as an honorable, respectable child who valued his family and nurtured those relationships. Those that knew him loved his personality, his spirit, and the way he lived – a strong leader with many followers.”
Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, whose father-in-law was killed in a hit-and-run years ago, also applauded the Simmons family and Chaparro for taking initiative in this matter.
“As someone who lost a family member to a hit-and-run in Hoboken, I am thankful for the Simmons family’s courage and efforts to help make our streets safer and bring hit-and-run drivers to justice,” Zimmer said.
“I thank Assemblywoman Chaparro for championing this legislation to provide law enforcement with a critical new tool to solve these tragic crimes.”
Similar alert systems have been implemented in California and Colorado, leading to a higher number of arrests in hit-and-run incidents. Additionally, Chaparro’s office is currently in talks with GPS apps with the hopes they will issue “Zack Alerts” to their users.
Victims or relatives of victims of hit-and-run incidents are encouraged to contact Chaparro’s office if they’re interested in expressing public support for the bill and/or would like assistance in doing so.