Father of Henderson teen killed by reckless driver testifies on bill that would increase penalties

Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 8:11 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - How long should a reckless driver go to prison for taking an innocent life?

That is the question now before Nevada lawmakers. Tuesday, a father who lost his son in front of a Henderson middle school last year testified in Carson City making an emotional plea to pass Rex’s Law.

“On March 7, 2022, our 13-year-old son Rex Patchett while on a sidewalk in front of his middle school was violently struck and killed by a reckless driver,” Jason Patchett testified.

The 21-year-old driver was going 97 miles per hour in his sports car in a 35-mile-per-hour zone in front of Mannion Middle School. He lost control and the vehicle went onto the sidewalk hitting Rex. The driver was sentenced to six years in prison with the possibility of parole after two years, the maximum under Nevada law.

“Simply put, the punishment does not match the crime,” Patchett argued, adding his family is now serving a life sentence and will never get over Rex’s death.

“Words cannot begin to adequately describe the horror that me and my family are plagued with day in and day out. It is completely and utterly uprooted our lives in ways unimaginable,” Patchett revealed.

“I wish I could tell you that Jason Patchett is the first parent I’ve met whose child was killed by a reckless driver, but I can’t,” stated Erin Breen, Director of the Road Equity Alliance Program & Transportation Research Center at the College of Engineering at UNLV. Breen presented startling numbers before the Judiciary Committee.

In 2021, Breen shared 5,137 drivers in Nevada were cited going more than 100 miles per hour. In the last five years, from 2018-2022, there were 210 reckless driving crashes that were fatal or caused life-altering injuries on Nevada roads.

Rex’s Law would increase reckless driving penalties up to 10 to 20 years in prison with a mandatory seven-year enhancement if in a school zone.

“I often say people drive like there are no consequences because there aren’t,” Breen said.

“Senate Bill 322 is not going to bring my son back, nor will it increase the penalty for the reckless driver who killed my son… SB 322 is our family’s effort to continue Rex’s legacy to help other people,” Patchett said.

A long list of agencies testified in support of Rex’s Law including Clark County, LVMPD, and the City of Las Vegas. There was no testimony in opposition.

A date for a vote on the bill has not yet been set.