Family fights to get hit-and-run alert law put into place in NJ

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The family of a New Jersey man killed in a hit-and-run crash is fighting to get a law passed that would help catch people suspected in these crimes.

Zackhary Simmons was struck and killed by a driver while crossing the street in Hoboken in 2016. The driver never stopped.

“I spoke to him that night, 1 a.m. He told me what he was doing and this is it,” says father Rickey Simmons.

Rickey says that he remembers receiving the phone call that changed his life.

“’Zack got hit and he didn’t make it.’ I’m like, what? ‘Zack got hit and he didn’t make it,’” says Rickey. “I was angry. It was really frustrating. How dare someone do this to me.”

So the family turned their grief into action and worked with New Jersey Assemblywoman Annette Chapparo to develop Zackary’s Law and “Zack Alerts.”

It works like an Amber Alert and would let New Jersey know when someone was killed or critically injured in a hit-and-run. Officials say if there’s significant information of the description of the car at the time of the crash, they'll be able to put out a description on billboards that are all around New Jersey roads.

“We have to catch people right away. Not two weeks later. Not three weeks later,” says Chapparo. “The whole point of this is to let people know there's an alert system in place. If you hit somebody you're going to get caught. The whole state is going to be looking for you."

The Simmons family did receive some closure. The driver that killed Zackhary was arrested and later sentenced to four years in prison.

But Rickey says that many families don’t get that closure.

"I’m not trying to save lives because I can't bring my son back I know, this but there's a lot of people with no closure,” Rickey says.

The bill passed through both the New Jersey Senate and Assembly Committees. The speaker of the Assembly must now put it up for a vote.

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