A family struck by tragedy is now working to prevent others from suffering their same loss.
"Amelia's Law," named after 16-year old Amelia Keown who was killed in a head-on collision in August
, is a push to keep repeat felony offenders off the road.
"I'm going to get a change in the system so that another family does not have to lose a beautiful 15, 16, 17 year old child," said the teenager's grandfather, Dwayne Keown.
The man who hit Keown, 44-year old John C. Perkins, had an extensive criminal record dating back to at least 1998. Records show it included misdemeanor speeding charges, but also charges for aggravated robbery, drugs, and fleeing and evading police.
On Wednesday, family members took "Amelia's Law" to Nashville, where they met with Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey to discuss their ideas. It was an encouraging day for this family which pledges to keep digging for information, meeting with government officials, and gathering support.
"When you listen to this family's story, and how many convictions this fellow had, it's just unbelievable that he was still on the street," Ramsey said. "And it takes actions like this from citizens to get results."
In particular, family members want to expand state law to include a greater range of felonies in the "three strikes" law which requires life sentences for repeat felony offenders. Ramsey pointed them to East Tennessee state representatives and senators who could write legislation to be proposed next session.
"I encourage them not to give up. Sometimes something like this takes more than one year, more than one legislative session," he said.
A petition for Amelia's Law
has garnered more than 6,000 signatures so far.
"We needed somebody to help us and say, 'You're going in the right direction. This is a change that can be made,'" said Keown's mother, Amanda Moore. "And he gave us that, he told us it was possible and where to go next."