FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE) Gavin’s Law – which would have made the punishment for leaving the scene of a deadly crash up to six years in prison, instead of the current four – is picking up new momentum after Tuesday’s arrest of a suspect in the hit and run death of Juliana Ramos.
“This loophole must be closed. Gavin’s Law needs to be passed,” said Assemblymember Jim Patterson, who wrote the law.
It’s something Patterson has been fighting for since 2018 when former Clovis Unified Vice-Principal Gavin Gladding was killed in a hit-and-run crash. The driver served just 14 months in prison.
The bill passed the assembly floor but failed by one vote in the senate.
Patterson is now looking ahead to January 2023, when he can reintroduce it to the state assembly.
“I think we will have some significant bipartisan support this time through,” he said.
Patterson attempting to bring the bill back to life after James Giacomazzi – a 68-year-old doctor from Sonora – was arrested Tuesday for allegedly hitting and killing 26-year-old Juliana Ramos in February.
“Now, the Ramos family is feeling the same kind of pain and hurt that the Gladding family has felt,” Patterson said.
Mike Osegueda also knows the feeling. His sister was killed in a hit and run in February and her suspected killer was arrested three weeks ago. She was also released on bail that same day.
“These people killed someone, you know? It’s one thing to have an accident and stop and try to help, but when you don’t even try to help, to me that shows a disregard for human life,” he said.
According to Patterson’s office, the bill would still be called Gavin’s Law and right now they’re still working on whether they’ll change any of its wording.