PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pennsylvania State Sen. Anthony Williams, D-8th District, has been working on legislation to crack down on hit-and-runs for several years now. But after 25-year-old Avante Reynolds was killed in his district in a hit-and-run recently, he’s urging his Senate colleagues to join him and take action.
It’s been almost four years since Ayeshia Poole’s 8-year-old daughter Jayanna Powell was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver as she walked home from school with her siblings in Overbrook.
“I carry this pain with me every day,” Poole said. “I don’t wish this on nobody.”
Paul Woodlyn is currently in prison for the crime.
“The only reason why he was caught was because the owner of the autobody shop that he took the car to had called Philadelphia County,” Poole said.
Poole went to Williams with the idea for Jay Alerts — named after her daughter. Williams has since introduced Senate Bill 54 outlining the system, which PennDOT would run. It would send descriptions of vehicles involved in hit-and-runs to all auto body shops in the state.
“It’s very emotional for a number of personal reasons for me, but also most problematic for those of us who are living in an era where we can solve this in part, not totally, but in part, with just common sense,” Williams said.
In a policy hearing Thursday afternoon, Senate Democrats discussed the Jay Alert bill and a second bill, Senate Bill 55, that would expand the current Amber Alert system to notify the public about vehicles involved in hit-and-runs.
Cpl. Shawn Kofluk of the Pennsylvania State Police is the supervisor in charge of Amber Alerts. He expressed concerns about adding more alerts to the system, based on feedback from colleagues in other states with multiple alerts.
“We receive complaints on a regular basis, these alerts are going off, consistently, all the time,” he said. “People start to tune out.”
PennDOT estimates the cost of building the Jay Alert system from scratch would be roughly $375,000 and would take about 10 months. Williams said it’s a minimal cost to potentially save lives and solve crimes.