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Mother of crash victim looks for new legislation for immediate arrests in DUI-related deaths

Becky Campbell • Updated Mar 4, 2018 at 6:54 PM

A grieving mother whose daughter was killed nearly a year ago by a driver authorities said had a blood alcohol content more than twice the legal limit hopes to get a tougher law in place so suspected DUI drivers who wreck and cause a death are arrested immediately.

Cindy Scalf said she has talked to some state legislators about a potential law to require an immediate arrest in cases of fatal crashes if the person responsible for the wreck was under the influence of any intoxicant — especially when the person is in the country illegally.

She wants the law named Shirra’s Law, after her daughter, Shirra Branum.

“An illegal immigrant could not be released if they caused an accident where a death occurred,” Scalf said. While she’s been told the idea for the bill is solid, the funding required could be a big roadblock for the effort.

Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport, said he’s talked to Scalf and looked at different ways to approach the issue. As of yet, he hasn’t found a cost-effective way to get any new law on the books. Blood tests done by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation take up to three months to complete. In this case, the District Attorney General’s office expedited the test and it was back in three weeks. Still, it was too late because the driver — Alan Jacob Mogollon-Anaya — had left East Tennessee.

For medical treatment purposes, hospitals do their own blood work, but if those labs were forced to hand over their test results, the lab technicians would then become witnesses in a criminal case, which Hulsey said he believed would be met with opposition.

Scalf’s determination won’t waver, however, because of the wreck last year that killed her daughter and seriously injured her grandson.

“You can’t put a cost on my daughter’s life,” Scalf said.

Branum was killed in a head-on collision that happened around 6:30 p.m. March 16, 2017, in the 600 block of Conklin Road in Jonesborough. She was driving a 2001 Nissan X-Terra when an oncoming 2002 Ford F-150 driven by Mogollon-Anaya crossed over and struck Branum head-on.

Branum had to be extricated from the mangled X-Terra and later died from her injuries. Her son, 9 years old at the time, had serious injuries and was admitted to the ICU at Johnson City Medical Center.

Mogollon-Anaya — who also goes by Mogollon as his last name and uses Alan or Jacob as his first name  — was injured as well as three children in his pick-up. They were also admitted to JCMC for treatment.

What happened next sent Branum’s family into further grief — Mogollon-Anaya was released from the hospital before Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputies obtained the blood test results and a warrant for the man’s arrest on April 16, 2017

By that time,Mogollon-Anaya had fled from East Tennessee.

A nation-wide manhunt launched with multiple agencies — including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Border Patrol — involved in tracking Mogollon-Anaya. He is not a legal United States resident, but was issued a temporary work visa in August 2016 and was awaiting a hearing for a permanent work visa. He has known relatives in Louisiana, but so far he hasn’t turned up there, according to Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal.

He has defended the sheriff’s office not making an immediate arrest, saying the threshold for a probable cause arrest was required as opposed to reasonable suspicion.

Between Branum’s family and an anonymous donor, there is a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Mogollon.

Anyone with information about Mogollon-Anaya’s whereabouts can contact the sheriff’s office at 423-788-1414.

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