Emmalee's Law pushes for harsher penalties - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Emmalee's Law pushes for harsher penalties

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URBANA (KWWL) -

Emmalee Jacobs, a freshman at Iowa State, was on her way to an early morning final when she was killed in a hit and run accident.

Benjamin Clague was driving the CyRide bus that hit Emmalee, leaving the scene. Clague never came forward but was arrested and charged a month later.

He spent just 30 days in jail as part of a plea deal and had to pay a $100 fine. This was because they could not prove that, beyond a reason of doubt, that Clague knew he hit her when it happened.

Their evidence could only prove Clague became aware about 20 minutes after he is accused of hitting Emmalee.

"He took an innocent life and he didn't pay for it. I'm sure he realized what he did was wrong but he didn't pay for it the way he should have," Aaron Smith said.

A new law, Emmalee's Law, could make it possible for harsher penalties in future cases.

"To make it clear that the statute does apply to people who leave the scene of the accident and then obtain knowledge that they were in an accident, there's some necessary legislative updating and drafting that needs to occur so that we don't see this in the future," says First Assistant Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds.

Something friends of Emmalee are urging others to get behind.

"It isn't just Emmalee's law. It'll be a law for everyone. No family should have to go through the grieving process of a hit and run accident," Smith said. "Emmalee was a great person and her death is for something and I believe this is what it was for."

The bill known as HF428 will be up for consideration tomorrow but friends worry that it won't pass because there isn't enough people pushing for it. That's why they're encouraging and asking others for help.

Smith says to help you can email Chip Baltimore at Chip.Baltimore@legis.iowa.gov and say "I urge you to pass HF428" and say where you're from.

"They just need people to urge it forward. They have so many bills to look at," Smith said.

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