By Anita Oh
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s been several months since a hit-and-run driver killed 8-year-old Jayanna Powell at the intersection of 63rd and Lansdowne Avenue in Overbrook.READ MORE: Girl Attacked By Man On Way To School In Atlantic County, Police Say
It happened on Nov. 18.
“It was hard. It was devastating,” Ayeshia Poole said.
Since then, the grieving family moved out of the neighborhood so her siblings wouldn’t have to walk the same route to school every day.
But through her pain, Poole has found purpose.
“I have a fight in me, which is not going to die and it’s not going to stop,” she said. “It’s scary, not knowing, not getting answers right away.”
That’s why Poole is working with state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams to create a “Jay Alert,” which would expand the current Amber Alert system to include hit-and-run advisories.
“It would hit cell phones, go across TV, radio, and to auto body shops,” Poole said. “If I have to, I’m going to take it to Harrisburg. From Harrisburg, if I have to, I will go to Washington, D.C.”
“We are going to introduce the bill immediately. Hopefully within the year, we can find it on the books,” Williams told Eyewitness News. “How this mother went past her own personal pain to help and protect other people, I think all of us should be inspired by that.”
Williams says the cost of such an alert should be “nominal,” because it will be added onto an existing system.READ MORE: Samir Jefferson's Mother Speaks Out After 14-Year-Old Shot 18 Times, Killed In Feltonville
Also under the proposed bill, PennDOT would have to notify auto repair shops with the details of any vehicle suspected of being involved in a hit-and-run, such as make, model and extent of damage.
“Because the first thing a person is going to try to do is get this car fixed,” Poole said. “I believe with the “Jay Alert,” you would get answers sooner than later.”
It took police nearly two weeks to track down the suspected driver, 24-year-old Paul Woodlyn and his highly damaged Nissan Altima, which was dropped off at an auto body shop in Frazer, more than 20 miles from the crime scene.
“To the person behind bars, I will never forgive him,” she said. “It would be different if you had stopped or if you were scared but had come back the next day and said, ‘It was me. I hit her.’ But you still didn’t turn yourself in. The cops had to come get you. So I will never forgive him.”
The owner of the auto body shop called police after seeing news reports of the car description and reward for information.
And while getting answers has not led to acceptance, this mother’s hope is that Jayanna’s death marks the birth of her legacy, a way to bring hope and healing to other families.
“She is here because she is in our hearts. Her spirit is around and she will forever live on,” Poole said.
Jayanna’s parents and Williams held a joint press conference about the “Jay Alert” Tuesday morning at Ren’s Auto Collision and Repair at 45th and Baltimore.
“We’ll provide that information onto all licensed auto repair shops across Pennsylvania, and in turn those auto shops will be on alert for any potential vehicle that follows the description and they will be required by law to notify law enforcement if they find such a vehicle in their possession,” said Williams.
The manager, Michael Slotnick, says they offered to host the press conference there because they are in full support of this proposed legislation.MORE NEWS: Family, Friends Hold Candlelight Vigil For Slain Temple University Student Samuel Collington
“If a car would’ve gone right to a repair facility and this type of bill would’ve already been enacted, I would think the shop owners would’ve done the right thing and contacted authorities right away,” Slotnick said.