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Father of hit-and-run victim responds to new Yellow Alert law

Thinking back on the moment John Virgin learned his 16-year-old son Grant was struck by a car walking to his friend’s house, still renders his emotions raw.

“God, that’s three years ago,” Virgin said fighting back tears.

The shock hasn’t worn off, knowing the person who hit him, got out of her car, saw Grant lying in the street and then drove off.

“It was my son. My son was that spot in the road,” Virgin said.

While Grant fought for his life for months in the hospital, law enforcement searched for the person who put him there. No one came forward.

“Most of these hit-and-run accidents are never solved,” Virgin observed.

Last year, Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) introduced a bill that would establish a “Yellow Alert” system. It’s similar to the Amber Alert, used to find missing or abducted children. .

Yellow Alert aims to crack down on drivers who flee the scene of a wreck by broadcasting suspect and vehicle information on social media and existing emergency alert systems.

Governor Jerry Brown signed it into law Monday morning.

“This will help law enforcement catch people in the surrounding area where a hit-and-run occurred,” Gatto said.

For Virgin, the law means protecting families from the kind of heartache his went through.

“An enormous number of them will be caught because someone saw that lady’s car after that lady hit my son,” Virgin said about the system.

He hopes it will allow communities to help each other bring hit-and-run drivers to justice.

“It lets our citizens protect themselves. Which is the right way to be,” Virgin said. “This is a safer society in not very long.”

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