Protection sought for unborn passengers 

By John Sittler

An Indiana senator is looking to toughen the punishment for vehicular manslaughter after the death of one of his constituents.

Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, authored Senate Bill 119 which increases vehicular manslaughter from a Class D felony, punishable up to three years in prison, to a Class C felony, which is punishable up to eight years in jail.

Currently Indiana law charges all manslaughter cases as Class C felonies, with vehicular manslaughter as the only exception.

Senator Jim Buck - SUBMITTED PHOTO

Buck introduced the bill after the death of Jeremy Bagwell, 28, of Kokomo who was killed in June of 2011 when an errant vehicle veered off the road and struck him as he worked on road construction.

The Corrections and Criminal Law Committee considered the bill Tuesday but postponed a vote when the group's chairman - Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis - offered an amendment.

The proposal would have increased the penalties for drivers accused of vehicular manslaughter in the death of a fetus. Currently, that punishment is not as high as it is for cases involving individual deaths.

Young's amendment would have made the punishment equal. Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, said that proposal would belong in another part of the law.

Young held the bill to work on the language.

John Sittler is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.

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