Gatto legislation would lengthen period for prosecuting hit-and-run cases

Legislation by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) to beef up enforcement of penalties for hit-and-run offenses unanimously cleared the Public Safety Committee this week.

The bill, which passed on a 7-0 vote, now moves on to the Appropriations Committee, where Gatto is chairman.

Assembly Bill 184 extends the statute of limitations on hit-and-run crimes to three years after the crime or one year after a suspect is identified by law enforcement, whichever is later.

Under current law, a suspect identified after the three-year statue of limitations expired cannot be prosecuted.

The legislation comes as authorities continue to search for the driver of a minivan who severely maimed a cyclist near Griffith Park last month.

Authorities last week announced a $25,000 reward for details leading to the arrest and conviction of the hit-and-run motorist who struck 36-year-old Damian Kevitt Feb. 17 on westbound Zoo Drive. He was dragged 600 feet under the motorist’s minivan until he was dislodged on the southbound Golden State (5) Freeway onramp.

Kevitt had to have his right leg amputated as a result of the incident.

At a press conference, Kevitt’s mother, Michele Kirkland, said the incident “was about one person who made the wrong decision and in a cowardly moment tried to get away and made things a lot worse.”

Kevitt, an avid cyclist and church counselor, has remained under the care of a team of surgeons, who have been treating his broken arms, legs, ribs, wrists, fingers, shoulders as well as a severe road rash at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center since the crash, she said.

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