Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Letters to the Editor

March 3, 2014

Andrew’s Law Family humbled by support of Virginians

— — A year and four months ago, our family was devastated by the loss of our Andrew, a Virginia State trooper who put his life on the line for others each day he went to work. He died on that line while directing traffic when a driver who was not paying attention failed to stop at his direction. We went through his funeral and barely had time to begin coming out of the shock of that night when we were told there was no code in Virginia to bring his killer to justice.

We have since been blessed to have the unfailing support and leadership of Sen. Phillip Puckett and his legislative aide Jennifer Boyd. They took a request from our family and drafted the proposed legislation that became known as Andrew’s Law. They kept us informed each step of the way. They listened to us when we wanted the bill to maintain a firm penalty for reckless driving resulting in death of a first responder. They gave us hope and encouraged us to keep fighting. Jennifer Boyd educated us on the process the bill would go through. Sen. Puckett defended the bill before his peers, strongly and effectively countering their opposition.

Over the weeks of January, we watched SB 293 go from a bill that seemed destined to fail before the first committee all the way to the Senate floor with unanimous votes in each committee and a 40-0 vote from the full Senate of Virginia. We stood amazed at the support we saw from the Virginia State Police Association, the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, the Virginia State Firefighters Association, the Virginia Professional Firefighters Association, the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police and other associations representing emergency responders in Virginia. These organizations were vocal in their support and stood in support at each committee meeting.

Bill Archer from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph has been a source of encouragement and a catalyst for action since January. His articles and editorials about Andrew’s Law have been shared across the Commonwealth and even as far as the state of Louisiana. Sheriff Brian Hieatt, Maj. Harold Heatley, Chief DeWitt Cooper and others from the Tazewell County Sheriffs Office and the Tazewell Police Department made personal trips to Richmond to talk with our legislators. Debbie Ratliff organized and managed a petition that totaled more than 2,000 signatures in support, and that petition was mentioned in the Senate hearings. Through friends on social networking sites and the media, our family was able to communicate with Virginians across the state to ask for their support of the bill.

The events of this past year of work on Andrew’s Law have been of such comfort, satisfaction and focus for our family. We feel lifted by the hands of Virginians across the Commonwealth who have come together to help us in a unified goal to see Andrew’s Law pass the Virginia General Assembly. We are so extremely grateful to everyone who stood with us, making phone calls, sending emails, praying, writing and encouraging. We are thankful for the trips and meetings with senators and delegates. We are energized and ready to meet the demands of next year and are full of the hope you have given us this year. Please accept this as our most humble gratitude for your efforts.

We saw mountains move in Richmond and hope to continue to move more mountains in 2015.

— The family of trooper Andrew Fox

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