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Teen’s drowning spurs new Iowa law
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Teen’s drowning spurs new Iowa law

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noah herring.jpg

Noah Herring

DES MOINES — The Iowa House on Wednesday voted to make it a crime to fail to disclose the location of a body with the intent to conceal a crime.

The impetus for Senate File 243 — passed on a 93-0 vote — was the death of Noah Herring, 15, of Tiffin, in Coralville Lake in April 2020.

Although three teens and an adult were present when Herring drowned, none of them called 911, and they withheld information about his disappearance, delaying the discovery of his body for four days.

At the time, the Johnson County sheriff said there was no applicable charge to be filed against the teens and the 47-year-old man for their failure to alert authorities.

“The story of Noah's death is tragic, and the circumstances and inaction surrounding it make it even more so,” said Rep. Garrett Gobble, R-Ankeny.

Under the proposed law, anyone who witnesses someone else “suffering from imminent danger of death or risk of serious injury” and fails to contact authorities would be committing an aggravated misdemeanor.

Additionally, if someone abuses a corpse and fails to disclose its location to conceal a crime, he or she would be committing a Class D felony.

The House amended the bill to say that the law would apply if a person “reasonably” believes another person is in imminent danger. Failure to respond would be a serious misdemeanor if it results in bodily injury and an aggravated misdemeanor if it results in death.

Because of the changes, the bill goes back to the Senate, which earlier approved it 47-0.

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