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Logging Death Brings Attention to Repeat Offenders

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The late Ada Upchurch
RALEIGH — You see the pictures on the news probably once a week. Mangled metal andshattered glass. A deadly car accident. What you might not know is thatthe same person can cause these deadly accidents again and again andstill stay behind the wheel.

Many people believe a weak law is contributing to the danger of repeatoffenders. Under state statute, a misdemeanor death by motor vehicleconviction results in a mandatory one year suspension of a driver'slicense. But the District Attorney's office could find no provision, nofurther punishment for a repeat offender.

There was some grieving to do in Fuquay Varina. June 2nd, 72-year-oldAda Upchurch died. Police say a logging truck driver plowed through a redlight in downtown Fuquay, killing the grandmother. Trucker Steven Coffeyis now charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. Three years agoCoffey was convicted of the same charge.

The whole situation has Upchurch's son mad. Eddie Wimberly says it angershim and other people that they depend on the justice system to take careof repeat offenders. Then, when it comes to his mother's situation, therepeat offender gets just a misdemeanor.

Wimberly is also the captain of the Cary Rescue Squad. He's outraged atthe situation involving his mother's death. But, he points out that notenough people feel the same way until it hits close to home.Thoughts shared by the State Highway Patrol.

Sergeant Jeff Winstead agrees the general public possibly lacks outrageuntil it strikes someone close. It often takes an accident to happento someone in your family, your community, or your neighborhood beforeyou really stand up and take notice.

Ada Upchurch's loved ones notice it. They want change on the state levelto crack down on repeat offenders who kill behind the wheel. That meanstoughening the laws to make the penalty fit the crime.

There has been a lot of attention on laws dealing with drunk drivers whokill. Many people are pleased with the get tough approach there. But asyou might imagine, other deadly accidents can be just as tragic andpainful. Many more people want change.

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