Indiana citizens will soon get back precious moments between a loved one’s car accident and being notified of the situation.
This spring, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed House Bill 1084, which helps law enforcement quickly notify victims’ emergency contacts after responding to serious car crashes. The bill requires the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to “create, maintain, and operate the Indiana emergency contact data base,” according to the bill. It also requires law enforcement to access the database and attempt to contact the emergency contacts listed. Each citizen may have up to 2 emergency contacts.
“Minutes count after a tragic accident, and this is an important tool that will help make sure family members are notified,” said state representative Anthony Cook (R-Cicero). “I worked closely with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and police agencies to pass this legislation that will expedite this time-sensitive and delicate process.”
Cook authored the bill after being contacted by parents who exemplified the need for this law. Joey Harris, 22, died alone in the hospital after a Hamilton County car crash in April 2014. Harris’ parents were not notified of their son’s passing until a hospital chaplain reached out with concerns over what to do with the body. Joey lived four hours after the crash, and his parents were six miles from the hospital.
To make sure that never happened again, Julia Harris, Joey’s mother, contacted Cook.
“It was devastating because our son lived for four hours and we could have been with him. We could have at least told him goodbye,” Harris said. “He died basically alone, and I don’t want that to ever happen again to anybody. This has taken three years to get something done, but Rep. Cook understood and took it from there.”
The BMV has until July 1, 2019 to create the database.