Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 2, 2014

Andrew’s Law clears Senate Finance, heads to the floor

BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

TAZEWELL, Va. — The family of a Virginia State Trooper who was directing traffic at the Virginia State Fair in the fall of 1012 when he was struck and killed by a driver are learning how challenging it is to bring about legislative change in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

On Friday morning, State Senator Phillip P. Puckett D-Russell was happy that his bill, SB 293, more commonly called “Andrew’s Law,” had cleared another Senate committee hurdle and would be on its way to the floor this week for possible passage in the Senate.

The bill is named for Virginia State Trooper Andrew Fox who was directing traffic on State Route 30 at Theme Park Way near King’s Dominion in Hanover County, Va., when a woman who was traveling east on Route 30 ran over Fox. He died of the injuries he received.

He was 27 years old. The driver who ran over Fox pleaded no contest to a reckless driving charge, received a 12-month suspended sentence and was fined $1,000.

“The family of Trooper Fox has worked so hard for this bill,” Puckett said. “Family members and friends spoke in support of the bill at committee meetings. The presentations were very emotional. Hopefully, if this bill passes, it will help other families who face the same thing.”

SB 293 would make reckless driving that causes death on a law-enforcement officer, emergency medical services personnel, highway worker or firefighter a Class 6 felony with a $2,500 fine and suspension of driving privileges for one year.

“The bill was unanimously passed in the Senate Finance Committee on Friday,” Lauren Fox said. Lauren is Andrew’s sister. “It is expected to be passed in the Senate. It will be heard on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with passage expected on Wednesday.”

Tazewell County Sheriff Brian Hieatt who hired Andrew Fox to work for the Town of Tazewell Police Department prior to Fox’s entrance into the Virginia State Police Academy said that he will be in Richmond on Wednesday along with sheriffs from throughout the Old Dominion.

“Wednesday is Sheriff’s Day at the General Assembly,” Hieatt said. “I am a member of the Virginia Sheriff’s Association. We have several bills we’re following, but this one — Andrew’s Law — is one that all of us are supporting.”

Hieatt said that he is a member of the Sheriff’s Association Legislative Committee. “We represent different parts of the state, and I think that Andrew’s Law is one bill that we could all get together and support,” he said.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com