It took nearly two days to locate the next of kin of a 56-year-old woman killed on Dale Mabry Highway. She was rear-ended at approximately 10:00 PM on New Year’s Eve.
According to state law, investigators are not allowed to publicly identify a crash victim until his or her family has been notified. Certain circumstances do allow a victim’s name to be released without notification, such as a situation where a family is living out of the country and exhaustive efforts have been made.
Troopers with the California Highway Patrol knocked on every door in an apartment complex until they found Chang Lee’s brother. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, authorities had not been able to locate an apartment number for him.
Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins has urged motorists to use the state’s free “emergency contact enrollment program,” which is available online and through the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
The Florida program was created in 2006 through efforts made by State Representative Bill Galvano R-Bradenton and a Manatee County woman, Christine Olson. Olson founded To Inform Families First following the deaths of her daughter and her daughter’s friend who were killed in a motorcycle accident in 2005. It took approximately 6 hours to locate Olson after the crash because of a lack of contact information.
The “emergency contact enrollment program” stores up to three phone numbers and two addresses for each licensed Florida driver in the Driver and Vehicle Information Database, which is a secure system accessed by law enforcement.
As of April 2008, more than 1 million Florida motorists have registered emergency contacts in the program. However, many people still do not know about the program.
Emergency contacts can be registered at https://www8.hsmv.state.fl.us/eci/ or in person at any Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles location.