MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Nearly two years after a bicyclist died in a hit and run accident on the Rickenbacker Causeway, his family and friends are pushing for legislation that would stiffen penalties for leaving the scene of an accident involving death or injury.
Sunday morning, Patty Cohen held her young son, as she remembered her husband Aaron Cohen.
“He was the kind of person who really got happiness from helping others and doing things for other people,” said Cohen. Cohen was described as a loving husband and father and avid cyclist.
Cohen was hit by a car nearly two years ago as he was bicycling with friend, Enda Walsh on the Rickenbacker Causeway. The driver left the scene.
Walsh fractured his leg and tore tendons in his shoulder. Cohen died.
The driver convicted in the accident that killed Cohen served less than a year in jail.
Now Aaron’s friends and his wife are encouraging lawmakers to pass legislation that would toughen the penalties for hit and run drivers.
“The law we’re trying to get passed is called the ‘Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act’. It’s being put through committee in our state legislature,” said Cohen.
“There’s a minimum mandatory of four years if you’re convicted of DUI manslaughter. Under this legislation there will also be a minimum mandatory four-year prison sentence for leaving the scene of an accident involving death,” said Enda Walsh.” The second thing the legislation does is it increases the seriousness of the crime if you leave the scene of an accident involving injury or serious injury.”
They said the goal is reducing any incentives to leave the scene of a serious crash and encouraging drivers to call 911 after an accident.
“ Immediate medical attention can be the difference between life and death or the difference between debilitating injuries and injuries you recover from and that’s the purpose of this legislation – to remove the incentive to flee so people will stay on the scene and get the medical aid for the victims that they need ,” said Walsh.
It’s legislation his friends and family believe Cohen would have wanted.
“I think everything we’re doing to change the law it makes sense on its own but it’s truly in the spirit of Aaron. I mean if tables were turned, this is exactly what he would be doing. It’s truly honoring him. He would be the most enthusiastic dedicated person to changing this,” said Cohen.
“I feel like if somebody else was killed Aaron would be the guy leading the cause to try to make some change and make the situation better for people going forward,” said Walsh.
Walsh also said the proposed law is not about putting people in jail, it’s about changing mindsets and making it unacceptable to leave the scene of an accident.