On Tuesday, June 3, Gov. Bill Haslam officially signed Amelia's Law into Tennessee state law. Zeb Colter had been working with the Tennessee Legislature to pass Amelia's Law, named after the WWE personality's granddaughter who was killed by an impaired driver in August 2012. The driver that struck her car, according to Colter, had previously committed no less than 21 felonies before being granted early release from prison. Colter was gracious enough to discuss the law and his involvement with WWE.com on behalf of his family.
WWE.COM: The passage of Amelia’s Law is obviously very important to you. Can you explain to our readers why that is?
ZEB COLTER: It’s important to me to try and prevent this from happening to someone else. This law will consciously make the state reexamine its policy of releasing parolees back on the street without the proper supervision. The person who killed Amelia was a 21-time felony offender. When he hit my granddaughter, he was under the influence of [multiple illegal substances] and running from Tennessee State Highway patrolmen. Our contention is that this person should not have been out of jail, where he was under control and supervision. Amelia’s Law allows judges to monitor anyone convicted of a drug or alcohol related violation, upon their release from prison, with a transdermal device attached to the ankle that checks the blood for alcohol and drugs every 30 minutes – rather than the random testing that was apparently going on before its passage. I hope this saves the next family from having to go through the tragedy that my family is going through.
WWE.COM: What steps did you take in the process of getting this law passed?
COLTER: You know the saying, “There’s a big hole in the world tonight”? That’s exactly what my family felt. We were in shock. About two weeks after the accident, my daughter went on the internet and checked the offender’s history. That’s when we realized the state had this man under control and let him out of prison. We said, “There’s something wrong here.” We then got people on Facebook to start writing to their representatives. And that’s how we got the groundswell. Eventually, we worked with the Lieutenant Governor and went from there. It officially becomes law July 1. I’m so sad for what happened to Amelia, but I’m very proud that we’re at least able to contribute positively and have the state name the law in her honor.
WWE.COM: This seems to go beyond strengthening laws and can be a way to educate people. What do you think young people can take away from this?
COLTER: Two things actually. First, this can happen to anyone. And second, you have got to take control of your own actions. You got to be responsible for what you do. I’m a firm believer that you can screw up once, twice, but after the third time and beyond, the lesson has not been learned. Parents need to take charge of their children. Schools are doing the best they can. If Amelia’s Law may save just one kid … it won’t be worth it … but it will be something. I wanted to avenge my granddaughter’s death in a way that resulted in positive action. I’m very proud of that.
WWE.COM: Is there anything else you would like to tell the WWE Universe?
COLTER: I guess I’d like to say that I think Amelia’s Law should be adopted nationwide. It’s actually a very low cost initiative with a tremendous benefit. If you’re going to parole repeat offenders, at least monitor them. Or this is going to happen time and time again.
If this does nothing else, it might wake up people around the country that will make enough noise that their state legislators do something about it. It doesn’t cost a lot of money and society gets a great benefit.
For more information on Amelia’s Law, visit http://www.ameliaslaw.com/.