IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A teenager's drowning death last year is prompting lawmakers in Iowa to consider making it a crime to fail to call emergency responders to report when someone appears to be in serious danger.
The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported that the family of Noah Herring supports the bill. Herring was 15 when he drowned in April in Coralville Reservoir. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said three teens and an adult were present, but none placed a call to get help.
They were cited with theft and criminal mischief charges, but no state law exists for ignoring help to someone in a dangerous situation.
State Sen. Kevin Kinney, a Democrat from Oxford, said the bill would make failing to call emergency responders an aggravated misdemeanor. It would also make failing to provide the location of a body in order to conceal a crime amount to the abuse of a corpse, a felony.
The bill passed through committee and is eligible for debate on the floor, said Sen. Amy Sinclair, an Allerton Republican. She managed the subcommittee that brought testimony from the Herring family and the sheriff’s office about the case.
“Ultimately, the goal is that we wouldn’t let people get away with concealing the death of another person,” Sinclair said. “We shouldn’t allow people to interfere with a police investigation.”
A statement from Herring's family said the bill "will create consequences for any tragedy like this that happens in the future. It’s sickening to think that Noah’s items (phone, clothing and wallet) were more protected by the law than his body and life were," the statement read.