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Community Tragedy Leads To New Law, Stiffer Penalties

Posted at 5:53 PM, Jun 09, 2016

Nearly three years after 17-year-old Elena Zamora was killed while walking on a crosswalk near Hume Fogg High School, a bill with her name on it was signed into law. 

The December 2013 tragedy was an accident that crippled the Nashville community.

Zamora had just left school and was walking across a busy intersection near Hume Fogg when a tractor trailer also had the green light but failed to see the teen. She died at the scene.

"The last day of her life she spent in my class, and when she left, I didn't know what she was going to be reading over the holiday," said Elizabeth Smith. 

Smith was Zamora's English teacher.

"When I realized what had happened, one of my first thoughts was, 'I didn't get a chance to say goodbye and know what she was reading right now' because it was such a huge part of her life," she said. 

Since then Smith and Zamora's family fought to change the law. The driver of that tractor trailer was charged with failure to yield and fined $500 dollars. It was little justice to Zamora's loved ones.

"Sometimes it takes a tragedy to get things to come into motion," Zamora's sister Beatriz Zamora said. 

Governor Bill Haslam signed the "Elena Zamora Memorial Act" into law Thursday. It increased the penalty for failure to yield the right of way resulting in a death to a Class A misdemeanor with a fine of $2,500 dollars and up to 11 months and 29 days in jail.

"This is the legal side, this is the side of justice, but as far as commemorative, we want to remember her through literature, what she enjoyed to do the most which was to read," said Beatriz Zamora. 

Hume Fogg High School also partnered with the Frist Center to launch the Stop Take Notice Campaign. You can find out more by clicking here