Friday, January 8, 2010

Justice for Heavenlee

On Sunday night, Dec. 13, 2009 at about 9:13 p.m, our granddaughter Heavenlee-Angel Johns was critically injured in an auto crash. She recuperated at Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis, where she recieved the finest care this nation has to offer.
She was permanently paralyzed as a result of the accident, which was compounded by the fact that, according to Indiana State Police reports, she was not secured in a proper child seat and was restrained only by a factory-installed lap belt.
The following story tells it better than we can:

Young child suffers life threatening injuries in Sunday crash

Before this event, Heavenlee looked like this:

This photo was taken the day before Heavenlee was injured. The young lady standing next to me is our daughter, Jamie Johns, whose love for her four children, 3 of whom are pictured here, has been unwavering and unconditional.

She may never walk again and faces a lifetime of struggle and adversity. Indiana State Police report confirms that the driver failed to secure Heavenlee in a child safety seat, as required by Indiana law: IC 9-19-11-2.
Sadly though, this provision provides for only a Class D Traffic Violation with a $25.00 fine. (see link below).

IC 9-19-11-2

We recall with horror the debacle of Judge Barbara Brugnaux and her treatment of Courtenay Scott, who spent no time in prison for the reckless homicide death of 2-year-old Alexis Williams. Scott was sentenced to two years probation for the class-C felony she committed May 22, 2002.

It would seem we were wrong in our assumption that the law would prevail in this matter. After meeting with the Vigo county prosecutors office, we were informed that the law does not provide for anything more than a Class D citation and a fine (See below).

IC 34-28-5-4
Maximum judgments
Sec. 4. (a) A judgment of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000) may be entered for a violation constituting a Class A infraction.
(b) A judgment of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) may be entered for a violation constituting a Class B infraction.
(c) A judgment of up to five hundred dollars ($500) may be entered for a violation constituting a Class C infraction.
(d) A judgment of up to twenty-five dollars ($25) may be entered for a violation constituting a Class D infraction.
(e) Subject to section 1(i) of this chapter, a judgment:
(1) up to the amount requested in the complaint; and
(2) not exceeding any limitation under IC 36-1-3-8;
may be entered for an ordinance violation.
As added by P.L.1-1998, SEC.24. Amended by P.L.200-2005, SEC.2; P.L.101-2009, SEC.18.

Apparently, Heavenlee's life is only worth $25.00 to the state of Indiana. It's comforting to know the state places such a high dollar value for the life of our children.

We harbor no anger towards the local law enforcement agencies with which we have had contact with to date. They are only enforcing the laws as written. Our anger is directed towards the state legislature who enacted impotent laws which fail to protect our children from negligent drivers.

This situation now provides the citizens of Vigo County and the State of Indiana the chance to remind those within the law community that we remember well and will not forget those who have suffered at the hands of negligent drivers.

Please join us in insuring justice is served for even the most innocent of our own.

Our goal now is to enact new legislation which will ensure that child safety seat laws are strengthened and that mandatory jail terms apply when injuries and/or death occur as a result of failure by negligent drivers to secure children in the appropriate and/or mandated restraint.

We ask that you please contact the following state senators and representatives and convey to them your opinion about this matter.

Senator Timothy Skinner(D)
District #: 038 Staff Contact: Brent Stinson
Phone: 800-382-9467
200 W. Washington St
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Representative Clyde Kersey(D)
District #: 043 Staff Contact: Christina Cesnik
Phone: 800-382-9842
200 W. Washington St
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Please refer to this specific website when addressing your concerns to them. We will be in constant contact with them as this process moves forward.

Thank you and God bless each of you for your assistance, concerns and prayers for our granddaughter Heavenlee-Angel Johns.

James & Amanda Wallace