The death of beloved Clovis vice principal Gavin Gladding is now the driving force behind proposed California policy change.
Gladding was killed in a hit-and-run last September. The community came together to rally for Gavin’s Law Friday — proposing tougher personalities for hit-and-run drivers.
There were at least a hundred people at Friday’s rally and more than 8,000 supporters have already signed a petition in favor of the new legislation.
“I never allowed the possibility that Gavin was more than just injured to run through my mind. As we all know, I was wrong,” Rita Gladding, Gavin’s mother said.
Rita recalled the day 18-year-old Rogelio Alvarez took her son Gavin’s life in a hit-and run.
“(Alvarez) will walk free next April. Our son, brother husband, and father is gone forever,” she said.
Alvarez was leaving a party at the time of the crash, but his arrest came days later, so his sobriety could not be tested. Valley leaders are now calling for change.
“The fact that criminals avoid a harsher sentence because they left the scene is totally unacceptable,” Sen. Andreas Borgeas said.
“It’s a travesty of justice, but it’s also a signal that if you’re out and around and you hit and hurt somebody you better run, you better not stay,” Fresno Assemblyman Jim Patterson said.
Patterson is behind AB 582 the bill dubbed “Gavin’s Law.”
“There’s a perverse incentive for people who hit, hurt badly or kill someone in a collision and leave,” Patterson said.
The legislation increases the maximum prison time for hit-and-runs causing serious injury or death.
“We want the word to get out, stay. Take your medicine, be a human being,” Patterson said.
Chief Jerry Dyer endorsed the bill, saying 60 percent of fatal hit-and-run cases in 2018 remain unsolved. “I do know it will dissuade individuals from leaving the scene of a collision,” he said.
Supporters know it won’t change the past, but are now looking to the future.
“We hope the next chapter in this story will be written, and that story will be of justice.” Patterson said.
On Tuesday March 19 Patterson and supporters will be in Sacramento, where the bill will be heard before the Public Safety Committee.