A Northwest Arkansas mother who’s already strengthened laws across state lines is looking to address hit-and-run legislation in Arkansas.
Hit and run accidents are happening more frequently, but Stacey Bankston said the time for the crime isn’t enough.
After her son’s death, she’s already changed Missouri’s laws and has moved on to the Natural State.
“I tell people I only miss my son when I breathe,” said Bankston.
In a blink of an eye, Bankston got a phone call that changed her forever.
“That was the moment where my life stopped, where I lost a part of myself,” said Bankston.
On September 25, 2015, her 19-year-old son Matthew was killed in a hit and run accident in Missouri.
“My son was thrown 254 feet, And his body landed on the highway and he was left there like a piece of garbage,” explained Bankston.
Not only did the man who hit her son leave the scene, but he didn’t turn himself in for two weeks.
“You got to the grocery store and wonder at every face you’re looking at is that the person who killed my child,” said Bankston.
Once her son’s killer was in custody, she assumed he would be charged with at least manslaughter.
But when she was told they could only charge him with leaving the scene of an accident, she was shocked.
“That really angered me when I started really looking at the laws, and the little time he would be serving for killing my child,” said Bankston.
This fueled bankston to contact her local lawmakers and demand harsher penalties for hit and runs.
“Seeing this as a problem that affects and can affect other people’s lives that needs to be changed and solved,” said Bankston.
Because of Bankston’s efforts, last August the amount of time spent behind bars for leaving a scene practically doubled in Missouri.
It’s now up to 7 years in jail and $10,000 fine.
However, the man behind Matthew’s death will only be locked up for three years.
Bankston said she’s already reached out to local lawmakers like Representative Greg Leding.
“There is a good chance we could see stiffer penalties. We want to make sure they are meaningful, and appropriate and don’t go too far. But I know that there are a number of lawmakers, like myself, who are looking at that,” said Leding.
“As his mother I’m going to make sure his death means something,” said Bankston.
Bankston has started a group, “Hit and Run Project.” The group will have a table at “Square 2 Square,” May 12th in Bentonville.