Less than two months after his daughter was killed by a driver whose license was suspended, Marc Cremer urged lawmakers Wednesday to pass legislation that he hopes will help local police to keep a watch out for unauthorized drivers on the road.
“Every second of every day is a struggle for all of us,” said Cremer, who gathered his breath as his voice quavered through testimony before the Transportation Committee.
Cremer said his daughter Haley was a powerful force, leading efforts to confront bullying within Sharon schools and was consistently on the dean’s list at Simmons College, where she was studying physical therapy. Authorities say Haley, 20, was killed by a vehicle driven by Jeffrey Bickoff, who allegedly had a suspended license when he drove into her on the side of the road in Sharon this past Father’s Day, June 15.
Pushing for a bill to direct the Registry of Motor Vehicles to notify local police whenever a resident’s license is suspended or revoked, Cremer said the bill was “not only what Haley would have sought . . . it is what Haley would have achieved.”
The bill would require the RMV to “promptly” notify local police in writing whenever a resident’s driver’s license is suspended or revoked because of “an immediate threat to the public safety.”
State Representative Louis Kafka, a Stoughton Democrat, said he plans to develop more comprehensive changes to laws next year to strengthen the penalties against drunken driving and repeat offenses of drunken driving. With less than six months remaining in the current session, Kafka said he was hopeful the bill would become law, giving the police another “tool” for making the roads safer.
Cremer said that writing and delivering his testimony before the committee was a “close second behind” delivering a eulogy at Haley’s funeral in terms of difficulty, but he did it to honor his daughter.
“Change is what Haley was all about,” said Cremer, who said the effort to change the law is “100 percent to honor her memory.”
“I’ve been in office 31 years. And I’ve never heard testimony so beautiful and so heart rending,” said state Senator Tom Kennedy, a Brockton Democrat who presided over the hearing as the House and Senate chairmen were not present. He said, “It touched all of us.”
No one testified in opposition to the bill, and the hearing room was filled with the family’s friends and neighbors.
Mike Hocking, a school resource officer in Sharon, said that Haley had worked on efforts to reduce bullying and texting while driving, and said, “Without her, they probably would not have begun at all.”
Hocking said police can now punch up a vehicle owner’s license status by entering a license number. The bill would enable commanders to alert officers at roll call about town residents who had their licenses suspended, he said.
Drivers arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol receive automatic license suspensions.
Steven Litner, Haley’s uncle, said Bickoff’s “sordid driving history” and his drinking of two to three alcoholic beverages before allegedly killing Linter’s “cherished niece” indicated “Haley’s death was not an accident.”
“This was the inevitable result of Mr. Bickoff’s repeated, willful transgressions,” Litner said. A Sharon resident himself, Linter said Haley was the “glue that kept our family so close” and said the route between their homes “will never be the same.”