DELAWARE COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — A Delaware County family whose daughter was killed by a repeat DUI offender has a message to state lawmakers. It’s been a year since a bill named in her honor was introduced in hopes of saving lives. But the bill still has not made it to the governor’s desk.
“If she could save one life, she would be so happy,” Deana’s mom, Roseann DeRosa, said.
Deana Eckman of Delaware County was tragically taken from her family too soon.
“She was a very, very giving, loving person,” DeRosa said.
Her parents tell Eyewitness News Deana was 45 years old when a pickup truck traveling on the wrong side of the road in Upper Chichester crashed head-on into the car she was riding in back in 2019.
Court records show the man driving the pickup truck was David Strowhouer. He pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence. The deadly crash was his sixth DUI.
The crash spurred Republican state Sen. Tom Killion to introduce a bill known as Deana’s Law. It would go after repeat DUI offenders by, among other things, increasing jail time. If it had been law at the time of this crash, Deana’s killer would have been in jail. And Killion expected it to become law this week.
“This bill, to use a football phrase, was on the one-yard line,” Killion said. “It was going to become, get to the governor’s desk last Wednesday, two days ago.”
But the bill suddenly came to an abrupt halt after a Democratic lawmaker added language to the bill that essentially says DUI offenders with a medical marijuana card and THC in their system would not face a DUI charge. That amendment got some lobbying groups and Killion concerned.
“I supported medical marijuana, but impaired is impaired,” Killion said.
Now, Deana’s family has a message to elected officials in Harrisburg.
“To every lawmaker who’s going to vote on this bill, put your child or a family member in that seat in that car that night and give me one reason why you would not vote on this bill to save a Pennsylvania resident,” DeRosa said, “just give me one reason.
“Because if you think it can’t happen to you, it can,” Rich DeRosa said.
Meantime, Deana’s family and Sen. Killion both say they’ll keep working to make Deana’s Law a reality.
AAA said in a statement, “It is an unfortunate, but true fact, that there are individuals that drive while impaired – either under the influence of a substance or under the influence of alcohol. AAA does not support passage of amendment 06303 to Senate Bill 773 this week, which would amend a DUI bill by loosening DUI conditions. AAA believes that impairment is impairment, whether you are legally allowed to have the drug or not, you should not be able to drive under the influence.”
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