Bill Aims To Increase Yield Violation Penalties

Posted at 6:01 PM, Mar 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-14 20:54:01-04

Tennessee lawmakers have introduced a bill which would increase the penalty for future violations in the state’s failure to yield law.

Elena Zamora, a 17-year-old student at Hume Fogg High School, was killed on December 19, 2013 after she was struck by a truck in a crosswalk.

At a hearing on Monday, Elena's father spoke out for the first time.

"She was killed because she followed and trusted the law," Andres Zamora said about his daughter.

The driver, Troy Devitt, said he didn't see the teen as she crossed the street. He received a $500 fine which was the maximum penalty under the current law.

"She assumed she was protected by the law and everybody would be as compliant of that law as her.  I think that if we put in the books a law that brings dire consequences when you are not alert to the road and as a result you injure or kill somebody, people will pay more attention to their surroundings," he added.

State Sen. Jeff Yarbro and Rep. Bill Beck have introduced legislation that would increase the penalty for future violations.

A handful of Elena's classmates  from Hume Fogg were also in attendance at Monday's hearing.

"We want to make sure it doesn't happen to anybody else," said Simon Cooper who had math class with Elena.

The bill, which passed a Senate committee, would increase the penalty for failure to yield the right of way resulting in death to a Class A misdemeanor, which is a $2,500 fine and/or 11 months 29 days in jail.

Lawmakers also voted to name the bill the 'Elena Zamora Memorial Act,' it will now be debated on the Senate floor.

"It's important that the law passes," her dad said.