Parents fight to change state law after their sons' deaths - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Parents fight to change state law after their sons' deaths

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HARDEMAN COUNTY, TN -
(WMC) - Social media has reshaped the way families hear about deaths after an accident.

A law mandates officials must notify the family promptly, but it doesn't give a time limit. Many argue that law is now outdated.

Two Bolivar Central High School parents say they were the last to know about their children's deaths and now they're using what happened to them to try and change state law.

"I had no idea where my son was, but everyone in Hardeman County knew," said Tammie Allen.

Allen's son died last October; her life changed forever.

Donald Hemker, 16, died in a car crash. Allen says it was hours before she got official word of his death.

"Had I not been concerned about where my child was and had I not been on Facebook, I would not have known my child had passed away in a car wreck."

Allen says she learned of Donald's death from a school coach, not police.

Antoine Sain says last June he found out on Facebook that his son, 17-year-old Jamal Sain, had been shot to death.

"We all found out through Facebook, and his twin brother breaking the door saying, 'Dad, Jamal is dead,'" said Antoine Sain.

Tennessee state law says notifying next of kin after death should be done "promptly."

Both Allen and Sain are now working to change and update the law, because social media is a part of everyday life. They say no one should ever have to read about death on Facebook or Twitter before hearing it in person.

State Representative Johnny Shaw of Hardeman County has already talked to both parents about the amount of time it takes for law enforcement to notify next of kin after death. He is working to shorten that amount of time, and to make it punishable to post the death to social media before parents are notified.

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