It makes me sad. A few weeks ago, 3 little girls here in Vegas were hit by a car driven by an elderly driver. They were apparently just walking across a walkway, minding their own business, being children, when they were struck in mid-step. One little girl died shortly afterward, another is in the hospital in a coma. The third little girl has been released from the hospital and just wants here sister to come home. Everyone is asking “why?”
Now another girl was struck by a car driven by a suspected drunk driver on Halloween. She died upon arrival at the hospital. She was with friends and relatives, who were horrified to witness the accident. Again, you have to ask “why did this happen?”
Has it gotten to the point that our children can’t even walk on the streets anymore? I have far too often witnessed near fatalities and accidents in this city. Las Vegas is notorious for poor drivers and accidents. Why? It’s gotten to the point that a drive on the freeway or highway is an exercise equal to the fall in the Tower of Terror at Disney World. You just shut your eyes and hang on, if you are a passenger. It doesn’t matter the skill or expertise of the driver you are with – it’s also dependant upon the driver next to you, or in front or behind you.
People are oblivious and speed in restricted areas. Everyone is in a hurry. Drunks out and about are free to wield havoc upon the unsuspecting pedestrian or another driver in their paths. How can we help our children deal with this and how can we protect them? Has it gotten to the point that children can no longer go outside in the evening if some of these accidents happen when it’s still light outside?
Perhaps elderly drivers should be retested or have their licenses taken away after an infraction. Perhaps casinos should stop offering free drinks when patrons play (as if that’s ever going to happen!). Perhaps drunk drivers should have licenses taken away permanently rather than receiving a slap on the hand. Speeders should have to take road safety tests and prove that they have learned their lessons. Would any of this work?
All we can do is teach out children the rules of the road. When they are little, we buckle them into their car seats and ensure they stay there while we drive. As they get older, we need to teach them pedestrian safety. An amber light doesn’t mean they may run across to the other side of a road. It means be careful – stop, look and listen before proceeding. A stop sign means “stop” to the pedestrian as well as the driver! Look to the sides and behind as well as in front of you before crossing a street. A driver passing a car which has paused to let you pass may not even know you are there. The driver coming around the corner in a hurry to beat a light may not see you! I was almost run over by a careless driver and if I hadn’t looked to the side, I wouldn’t be writing to you today. He didn’t even acknowledge me as I jumped back and hollered.
Teach children to walk on the inside of sidewalks, in case a car jumps the road. Teach them to stop when a light is red and to wait for a walk signal. Remind them not to approach strangers in vehicles under any circumstances. Remind them about Block Parents and safe houses. Teach by example! Above all, teach them that their safety is in their hands as well as the next person’s, because if they aren’t vigilent, they may get hurt. Or worse.
Drivers can’t be trusted to see all and know all. There are blind spots. There are times they are distracted or rushing – in this town, almost all the time, it seems! Some drivers have driven for so long that they have become careless. Cars are big and deadly but drivers kill. Teaching children to respect rather than fear the roadways and vehicles is perhaps the best lesson. Fear can make them run across streets and dart in front of vehicles. They freeze like deer in the headlights. Respect will teach them to be wary. When teens learn to drive, they will have seen both sides of the coin and hopefully will remember to watch out for pedestrians. Remind them when you have them behind the wheel of your car.
Here is the story posted in the Review-Journal that prompted this article. Is there anything we can do? I hope so.
“LAS VEGAS—A 12-year-old girl dressed up for a night of trick-or-treating was struck and killed by a suspected drunken driver as she crossed a Las Vegas street on Halloween night.
Faith Love’s death marked the third auto-pedestrian fatality in recent days in the Las Vegas Valley, and served as a reminder of the potential dangers of sending children off into the night to collect treats.
The girl’s mother, Rocquell Love, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the family initially planned to spend the holiday with church friends, but Love opted to send her daughter with a group of cousins under the care of an aunt after her 6-year-old son got sick.
Sgt. Richard Strader said the girl’s uncle and cousins were standing only feet away from her when the car ran into her. By late Wednesday, friends and relatives had decorated the pedestrian street with bouquets of roses, teddy bears and cards in memory of the girl.
“It was a tragic, traffic scene,” Strader said. “The odds are against people when they are out and about, unfortunately.”
A witness to the accident, 15-year-old Aaron Francois, was trick-or-treating with his brother when he saw the 2009 Mazda RX-8 hit the girl. The car appeared to be traveling much faster than the 25 mph speed limit in the residential neighborhood.
Francois told the Review-Journal he heard a young boy scream, “That’s my cousin, that’s my cousin!”
The 41-year-old driver, Justin Caramanica, was arrested on a felony drunken driving charge and was being held at the Clark County jail. A court hearing has been scheduled for early Thursday morning.
Love said by the time she arrived at the hospital Monday night, her daughter was already dead.
She said she doesn’t blame her sister for her daughter’s death.
“She feels because she was with her, she should have been able to take care of her and protect her,” Love told the Review-Journal.
Faith, a seventh-grader, especially loved books about Native Americans, and based her Native American princess costume on her readings.
“You know how most kids hide in the bathroom, supposed to be getting ready for school, but they’re playing video games and texting?” her mother said. “My child would literally go in there with a book. She would read three or four books at a time. She just loved knowing things and learning.””