On behalf of Robinette Legal Group, PLLC
She stepped outside for what was to be a brief moment away from a friend's 21st birthday celebration in her hometown of Fairmont. Minutes later, her friends found her dying in an alley, the victim of a hit-and-run driver.
Today, more than four years after Erin Keener's death, she lives on in the hearts of her family and friends and in a law named after her. Effective in June, Erin's Law will force hit-and-run drivers to take responsibility for their harmful, illegal acts.
A Steeper Price to Pay for Running
The law increases the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in which there is an injury or death. With Erin's Law in place, hit-and-run drivers will face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Keener's family felt some relief when police arrested a 65-year-old man last year in connection with Erin's death. Jon Morris will stand trial under the old law -- the law in effect at the time of his arrest -- for leaving the scene of an accident involving a death. If convicted, he faces the possibility of three years in prison.
Morris has pleaded not guilty to the charge of hitting the West Virginia University nursing student and driving off to let her die.
Keener lived for three days after being hit by a vehicle outside the Fairmont bar where she was celebrating a friend's birthday with five other women.
Keener died at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown; the same hospital where she was student nursing. It's also where her mother, Debbie Keener, works as a medical technologist.
Marion County Delegate Mike Caputo told MetroNews that Erin was a friend of his daughter. He told the radio network that Keener's parents called him, asking for tougher penalties for hit-and-run drivers who cause injuries and deaths.
Caputo said it was a request he couldn't refuse.
He said the law will give prosecutors more tools to work with in future, similar situations.
Protecting You and Yours
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle crash by a hit-and-run driver, or if you have lost a loved one in a hit-and-run car crash, contact a West Virginia personal injury lawyer. A personal injury attorney can assess your case and help determine if you are entitled to compensation for damages.