‘Zack Alert’ approved in honor of NJ hit-and-run victim
His spirit was strong and pure. He was wise beyond his years. And his life was cut short at just 21 years old while walking the streets of Hoboken in June.
Now family and friends of Zack Simmons are living in a never-ending cycle of pain and anger, hoping to one day "wake up" and realize his tragic death was just a dream.
They know that day won't come, but they do believe something good can come out of that early Saturday morning when the Ramsey resident was struck by a black SUV and left for dead.
Simmons' loved ones are behind a push to create a statewide alert system that would be activated when it's decided by officials that a driver left the scene of an accident that killed someone or left them seriously injured.
Immediately, officers and the public would be notified of who/what to look out for on the road.
Similar to an Amber Alert that's activated when a child is abducted, a "Zack Alert" would inform the public through various media avenues, including road signs.
"Lives could be saved because a driver would think twice about leaving a scene due to the knowledge of what a Zack Alert would do," said Jennifer Jordan, who is engaged to the victim's father and was in line to become his stepmother. "The legacy of (Zack's) life and other lives that were taken in the same way can live forever in the passing of Zackhary's Law."
The proposed law was unanimously approved in late October by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.
"In the case of a serious automobile accident, the driver of the vehicle may be the person in the best position to call for help. That call may save someone's life," said Assemblyman Daniel Benson (D-Mercer), chair of the committee. "The Zack Alert system would provide a low-cost common-sense means of apprehending those who leave the scene of an accident."
Simmons' alleged killer was eventually arrested in New York City two weeks following the fatal collision.
According to Captain Charles Campbell of the Hoboken Police Department, Zackhary's Law would give law enforcement another tool in the arsenal to combat fleeing offenders.
"This bill will allow for more sets of eyes to be aware of the situation and provide much-needed information during those crucial first steps (of an investigation)," Campbell said.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.