Legislation Sparked by Neosho Man’s Death Moves Forward
A Missouri bill drafted following the death of a Neosho man is quickly moving through the legislature, passing the senate this week.
Stacey Stevens has been seeking justice for her son Matthew ever since he was killed in a hit and run accident in September. She’s enlisted the help of local legislators to work towards passing a law that would enhance the penalties for anybody who leaves the scene of an accident where someone has died.
“The law as it stands on the books right now, equates human life to $1,000 or more of property damage. Human life is different than property damage and we shouldn’t be comparing the two, there is no comparison,” says Stevens.
The bill would change leaving the scene of an accident from a class D felony to a class C felony, increasing jail time to 7 years and fines to $10,000.
Representative Bill Reiboldt says the measure has received a lot of support.
“I think people see a need and want to show their support because you know there is a problem in this state and we need to make people aware,” says Reiboldt.
Stevens and other families affected testified in front of a committee, sharing why they want to see the change.
“I’m very encouraged by it, I think it’s been the best way that I know of to honor my son,” says Stevens.
Lawmakers and family have a simple plea.
“If you have an accident and you hit somebody, please stop, please stop for the sake of the family, try to help that victim and don’t just leave the scene,” says Reiboldt.
And Stevens can now see the silver lining in her work.
“Grief is never ending and it has been hard to be without my son but I also know that my son is with me every day and that he would be proud of the work we’re doing now,” adds Stevens.
Representative Reiboldt says the measure should pass in the house this coming week and then would be on its way to the governor’s office.
A jury trial for Oren Rinehart, the man who turned himself in for leaving the scene, has been set for November 1.