Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro introduced a bill (A4184) that would establish an alert system in cases of hit-and-run incidents where someone has been seriously injured or killed. The aim of the bill is to aid law enforcement in pursuit of a fleeing hit-and-run driver by publishing information on road signs, to state employee and law enforcement cell phones, and to the media (similar to AMBER and Silver Alerts).
The bill was inspired by the efforts of the family of 21-year-old Zackhary Simmons, who was tragically killed due to a hit-and-run collision in Hoboken in late June.
“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. “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.”
Zackhary Simmons, from Ramsey, was the light of his family’s life. The following statement is attributable to Rickey Simmons (Zack’s father) and Rickey’s fiancÉe Jennifer Jordan.
“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. 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.”
The incident involving Zack shook the community of Hoboken in June. An arrest was quickly made in the incident thanks to the hard work of the Hoboken Police Department’s Detective Bureau.
“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,” said Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “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. Assemblywoman 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 the office of Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro if they’re interested in expressing public support for the bill and would like assistance in doing so.