Josiah Jenkins, was buried Sunday at Refuge Temple church in Columbia, SC. The toddler was killed as a result of severe head trauma when a drunk driver plowed into the vehicle Jenkins was riding in as his mother Latoya Jenkins drove. The inebriated driver, 44-year-old Lonnie Gross III is, of course, just fine. The accident took place while Gross was out on bond awaiting trial for a previous DUI charge just this past November.
There were over 600 mourners at the service, many of whom did not even know young Jenkins. But it is indicative of a community that is fed up with lenient DUI laws that have made the county jail essentially a revolving door storefront.
According to The State newspaper, Gross is a four-time felon (whose crime of choice is DUI) who kept being released on bond and probation. Not only was Gross driving under the influence when the accident occurred last week, but his license was suspended. For the fifth time, the crime is DUI, and finally the judge has shown mercy to the innocent citizens of Columbia and denied Gross bail.
Last year there was a big push for stricter DUI penalties when yet another child, 6-year-old Emma Longstreet, was killed by a repeat drunk driver. Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, introduced Emma’s law which would require first time DUI offenders to use an ignition locking device on their vehicles for a minimum of six months. Read more about how this system would work here.
Shamefully, the bill stalled for almost a year due to partisan politics. Now with the rash of more deaths by repeat DUI offenders in South Carolina, both sides of the house are agreeing to come together and will give the bill a hearing this Thursday.