Proposed legislation would close a loophole in the state’s hit-and-run law. Mary Kay Scheller still suffers the trauma of her mother’s death nearly four years ago. Fran Suitor was killed on October 10th, 2005, when a drunk driver plowed through the wall of her bedroom in the Village of Oregon. Even though the driver left the scene, she was not charged under the state’s hit-and-run statute.
“In order to be a victim of a hit-and-run under the current law, it’s my understanding that my mom would have had to have been asleep in her bed in the middle of the street, when she was crushed to death by a motor vehicle,” Scheller told members of the Assembly Criminal Justice Committee at the Capitol Thursday. “The driver backed out of my mom’s home, taking a fire hydrant with her, drove several blocks home and hid the vehicle behind. But according to the statute and law as it stands now, this was not a hit-and-run accident.”
State Representative Brett Davis and state Senator Jon Erpenbach are sponsoring “Fran’s law” to close the loophole. The existing law, explains Davis, only applies to accidents on highways or other public areas. “That’s what we’re trying to change,” says Davis. “We may not be able to retroactively change the situation for the Scheller family and for Fran, but moving forward, we can make a difference. That’s what this family’s committed to, and it’s part of that grieving process.”