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'Good Sam' crime-reporting measure shows promise

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

A House Good Samaritan bill passed the Senate last week with only minor adjustments, and local lawmakers anticipate the bill will find its way to Governor Christine Gregoire’s desk soon.

The bill, supported by Rep. Mark Miloscia, is companion legislation to Sen. Tracey Eide’s Joey Levick Bill.

Miloscia and Eide are Democrats from Federal Way and the 30th District.

The Good Samaritan act makes it a misdemeanor not to call for help for someone suffering serious bodily injury as a result of a physical assault. A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

The original House bill made it a crime to fail to summon assistance under two circumstances: if someone was present when the assault occurred, and if someone was made aware of the assault by someone else who was there. The Senate amended the bill by striking the second condition, then passed it 42-7 April 11.

Because of the amendment, the bill returned to the House for final approval. Since there was considerable support for the original bill in the House –– it passed 97-0 in March –– representatives are expected to pass the legislation as amended.

Eide (D-30th District) has introduced similar legislation in the Senate for years in memory of Joey Levick, a young man who was severely beaten and thrown into a ditch in Burien. Over the 14 hours it took for him to slowly drown in a shallow puddle of water, his assailants brought their friends and family members to look in at him. No one called for help.

Melva Levick, Joey’s mother, began lobbying legislators in 1997, insisting that if someone had called 9-1-1, her son would have lived. This year, she was joined by the mothers of two other people who died in King County because no one called for help.

The Good Samaritan bill makes it a misdemeanor for a person not to summon help — defined as making a reasonable effort to call 9-1-1 and identify the victim’s location — for someone suffering substantial bodily harm. The bill exempts people whose own safety would be in danger if they called 9-1-1 —  those who might also suffer bodily harm at the hands of the assailant or assailants.

Miloscia said Rep. Al O’Brien (D-1st District) is working with senators to try to return the amended second condition to the bill, but he said the House ultimately is willing to approve what they’ve got if the Senate won’t negotiate.

“We don’t want to kill it,” Miloscia said. “Something is better than nothing.”

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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