Gov. Holcomb signs Cook’s bill notifying family members after tragic car accidents

Posted by: Devan Strebing  | Thursday, May 25, 2017

STATEHOUSE (May 25, 2017) — Gov. Eric Holcomb today ceremonially signed a law authored by State Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero) providing law enforcement officers with a new tool to more quickly notify emergency contacts after responding to a tragic car accident. 

Cook said this new measure establishes a database for law enforcement officers to utilize after responding to a death or severe injury. The first responders could more quickly notify the victim’s family members or loved ones.

“Minutes count after a tragic accident, and this is an important tool that will help make sure family members are notified,” Cook said. “I worked closely with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and police agencies to pass this legislation that will expedite this time-sensitive and delicate process. Julia Harris’ heartbreaking story was one of the incidents that motivated and inspired me to want to improve the accident scene communication process and to improve contact to immediate loved ones caught in this heart wrenching situation.”

Julia Harris of Westfield was not notified by law enforcement that her son was involved in a car accident and had passed away until approximately four hours later by the hospital chaplain. She was only six miles away from the hospital.

“It was devastating because our son lived for four hours and we could have been with him,” Harris said. “We could have at least told him goodbye. He died basically alone, and I don’t want that to ever happen again to anybody. This has taken three years to get something done, but Rep. Cook understood and took it from there.”

Hoosiers with a driver’s license or a state ID card will list one or two adults as their emergency contact for this database through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Law enforcement officers who make good-faith efforts to contact the next-of-kin in a reasonable amount of time would be provided with civil immunity from any associated damages if they are unable to reach a contact.

To learn more about House Enrolled Act 1084, visit iga.in.gov.

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State Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero) represents House District 32, which includes all of Tipton County and portions of Hamilton, Madison, Delaware, Howard and Grant counties.

A high-resolution photo of Cook can be downloaded by clicking here.

Attached and below: Gov. Eric Holcomb (seated, center) today at the Statehouse ceremonially signs into law a policy authored by State Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero) (seated, right) that creates a database for law enforcement to more quickly notify family members after responding to a tragic car accident. Julia Harris of Westfield (top left) lost her son in a car accident and was not notified until many hours later.