Posted: Dec 12, 2012 8:05 PM by Rebecca Taylor
Updated: Dec 12, 2012 10:05 PM
TUCSON - Stiff new rules now in effect for hit-and-run drivers after Governor Jan Brewer signed Joey's Law.
State lawmakers in April unanimously passed the measure, named for Joey Romero, a Peoria teen killed in 2010.
It slaps an automatic five-year suspension on the license of any driver who fails to stop at the scene of a serious injury accident.
Punishment jumps to ten years if the victim dies, all that on top of any jail time.
For families of hit and run victims across Arizona this law is welcome news.
For Tucson mom Carolyn Mello whose son was badly injured by a hit and run driver, the law brings some relief.
"This is excellent news. If someone does a hit and run and leaves the scene of an accident they have no regard for another human they don't deserve a license, I don't think they could be trusted to drive again," she says.
The crash happened October 20th near the intersection of Columbus and Flower.
Police say the driver of a Toyota Tacoma traveling North on Columbus made an illegal left hand turn, cutting the 18 year old off. Manny Mello suffered critical injuries.
The driver has yet to be caught.
"It would be excellent if we could find the person that did this, but knowing that they wouldn't be able to hurt someone else would be more of a satisfaction," says Carolyn.
Loved ones of Joey Romero were instrumental in drafting and promoting the bill.
The 18 year old Phoenix area high school student was hit and killed while walking home from work two years ago.
For Manny, he's now out of the hospital and learning to use a wheelchair.
Every morning Carolyn still scours the neighborhood where the accident happened, looking for clues.
"The detective did tell me they got one 88-Crime tip, but unfortunately it didn't turn out to be the truck," she says. "But it's a good sign that people are still out there looking and calling."
A reward for information is being offered by the family to bring the driver to justice.
They're looking for a Toyota Tacoma with front end damage. Witnesses describe the truck as black or gold in color.
Call 911 or or 88-Crime if you have any information.
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