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'Responsibilities In An Emergency' Bill Fails In Utah House


A bill that would require bystanders to emergencies to call 911 failed in the Utah House of Representatives Wednesday. 

This is the third year House Minority Leader Brian King has sponsored House Bill 104, Responsibilities in an Emergency. The bill would make it a class B misdemeanor if individuals failed to call 911 in an emergency.

The Salt Lake Democrat says a similar law already exists in the state pertaining to abuse of children or vulnerable adults. King called HB 104 an extension of that code to include everyone else.

“Could be any one of us is in a terrible circumstance, involving an accident or an emergency, where we're suffering serious injury and someone comes along and knowingly and intentionally and willfully fails to call 911,” King said.

Rep. Tim Quinn says he’s supported this bill every year King has presented it. Quinn has a child with disabilities, who is considered a vulnerable adult. But the Heber Republican also has five other daughters and says he would want the same protections for them in case of an emergency.

“So if I would hope, and legally hope, that someone would step in and help her, why would I want anything less for my other children, even as adults?” Quinn asked.       

Rep. Merrill Nelson spoke against the bill. Nelson says legally requiring the public to help those in need diminishes the unselfish nature of the deed.

“The more we mandate goodness as a society, the more we lose innate goodness in society,” Nelson said.

HB 104 failed in the House with 29 yes votes and 46 no votes. King says he’s unsure if he’ll bring the bill back next year.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.