Brad and Brooke Hellwig's lives were forever changed the afternoon of Sept. 17, 2011 when a negligent driver rushing to park her car, hit and killed their 13-month-old daughter, Olivia Anne Hellwig.
"She would glow, she would always smile, her eyes would smile and sparkle," Brad Hellwig said. "We miss her every day, but we are grateful for the time we had with her."
It happened at Lenora Park in Gwinnett County. Brooke Hellwig said she was pushing Olivia in her stroller and was about to walk across the crosswalk when Tekila Glass sped past her, then backed her 2005 Chrysler Pacifica into Hellwig and the stroller.
"Ms. Glass ran over her (Olivia) after hitting me the first time, and Olivia," Brooke Hellwig explained. "She pulled forward for a second maneuver, pulled back again which is when she ran over Olivia's head, then drove forward again, back over Olivia."
Brooke Hellwig said her daughter was still alive after the first time both were hit.
"She was screaming, 'mommy,'" Hellwig said.
Before Brooke Hellwig could reach her daughter and pull her to safety it was too late.
Glass pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide last year and was sentenced to two years of probation, a $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail.
"Thirty days in jail did not feel right for the choices that she made," Brooke Hellwig said. "Nothing is going to bring Olivia back. She drove away that day without even a ticket. I drove away in an ambulance with my dying baby."
Brad and Brooke Hellwig both said that 30 days in jail for the death of their daughter is not a just punishment. That's why they are now fighting to get tougher laws passed for vehicular homicide.
"Stricter punishments hopefully will prevent people from making these negligent decisions in the first place," Brad Hellwig said.
State Sen. Curt Thompson, D-Tucker, introduced Senate Bill 116. It passed the Senate on Tuesday and is now in committee at the House.
"What it does say is that if someone is sentenced they are going to have to do the time," Thompson said. "We need people to become more aware of this and the need for stiffer penalties, especially for pedestrian accidents. We need to do the right thing to pressure our House members to hear this bill and to pass this bill."
The bill would raise the misdemeanor charge of vehicular homicide to an aggravated misdemeanor. And it would raise the maximum penalty from $1,000 to $5,000.
The Hellwigs said the bill is a good start, but feel that at least a year minimum in prison for anyone convicted would send a stronger message.
"It is getting your eyes back on the road and it is so important to us to slow drivers down and get their attention back on the road," Brad Hellwig said. "If we can save one life it will be worth it, all the work."
Olivia would have turned 3 years old on Aug. 16. Every day the Hellwigs and their three other children remember Olivia.
"She is the coolest, most beautiful, amazing blue-eyed, blond haired baby, she was incredible," Brooke Hellwig said. "She was always dancing and smiling and laughing. It is for her, it is something we can do for Olivia in her name and honor and remembering what an awesome person she is."
The Hellwigs plan to start a nonprofit foundation in Olivia's honor. For more information on their cause you can visit their Facebook page.
Copyright 2013 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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