Indiana bill would require rendering aid to injured drivers

| 12/14/2006

In hopes of preventing needless deaths along roadsides, an Indiana state lawmaker is working on a bill that would require passengers of vehicles to act and call police in life-or-death situations.

Rep. Tim Neese, R-Elkhart, said he will introduce a bill during the session that begins Jan. 9, 2007, that would require passengers to help injured or trapped drivers and immediately report accidents to law enforcement, The Associated Press reported.

Failure to act could result in up to 60 days in jail and as much as a $500 fine.

Neese is pursuing the effort in response to the death of Thomas Hoopingarner in November 2005.

Hoopingarner, a 17-year-old, died after two riders in his vehicle left him trapped while the vehicle was inverted and underwater in a pond in northern Indiana, The AP reported.

The two teenage passengers left him there without seeking aid and not reporting the wreck, The Truth of Elkhart reported.

The case against the pair was closed a month later because no laws in Indiana supported filing charges against the teens.

"People assume laws exist requiring people to get help for someone injured in an accident," Neese told The AP. "It's impossible to legislate common sense, but this legislation is merely the right thing to do."