HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A new law in New Jersey to help track down suspects in hit-and-run crashes is being named after a man killed in 2016.
It happens all too often: The driver leaves the scene of an accident with a victim is left behind, reports CBS2’s Meg Baker.
In one such case, surveillance video from 2016 showed the vehicle Hoboken police were searching for after Rickey Simmons’ son Zack was hit.
“He was hit and killed and left on the street,” said Simmons about his son.
Starting this summer, New Jersey will use Zack Alerts to help track down vehicles involved in hit and runs. The alerts will be sent to law enforcement, broadcast media and displayed on electronic road signs similar to Amber Alerts for missing children.
“We want to send a message that in New Jersey if you are involved hit and run, once you flee the entire state is looking for you,” said Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro.
The law is named for 21-year-old Zack Simmons, cousin of Ben Simmons, the NBA star who plays for the Philadelphia 76rers.
Zack’s father hopes the new law acts as a deterrent to others since staying on the scene and calling for help could mean saving a life.
“That precious time could be used helping the person,” said Rickey Simmons. “This bill will help police apprehend these people and bring closure to a lot of people.”
“Accidents happen, but fleeing is not an option – that’s the message,” said Chaparro.
Simmons says the passage of this law helps his family heal from their loss.
“Zachary, I love you, I miss you and we got it done, buddy,” he said.
New Jersey state police say there were 39 fatal hit-and-run accidents in 2018. California, Colorado and Maryland already have similar alert programs.