Guest written by Erin Breen, UNLV’s Vulnerable Road Users Project Director
After a 364-day delay, the documentary born out of the 2019 #Dusk2Dawn pedestrian safety campaign finally premiered on March 18, 2021. My Best Friend: A Pedestrian Story follows the awareness campaign that launched with 91 chalk body-outlines on Las Vegas streets the last week of October 2019.
More specifically, the documentary tells the stories and chronicles the involvement of three families as they chalk outlines at the locations where their children/siblings were killed. All the families have one thing in common: no matter who was at fault and how their child or sibling died, none are coming back.
Mary Lily was 16, crossing Craig Road at Pioneer Street, in a crosswalk when she was killed. James Spagnoli, 26, was sprinting his 6’7” athletic body across Flamingo Road, outside of a crosswalk when he was killed. And Jonny Smith was waiting on the center median crossing Fort Apache, feet from Arby Street, when two cars stopped to allow him to finish crossing, but the third driver didn’t see him and killed him as Jonny ran across his path.
The documentary, beautifully crafted by NDOT Media Specialist, Brad Horn, was a labor of love and tells a cautionary tale for every road user. One child in a crosswalk, two running across streets illegally; one of those drivers doing the speed limit, and one going dangerously fast. Everyone with an outcome that forever changes their lives.
At the premiere, Governor Steve Sisolak introduced the documentary and an animated short piece by Ashley Cervantes, and following the documentary, Congresswoman Dina Titus offered comments and hope for improvements to come in Nevada.
The community discussion will continue on April 15 at 1 p.m. You can register to attend virtually at https://pedsafe.vegas/MyBestFriend and be part of the solution to the issues in our community. The original panel members will lead off the discussion with groups in northern Nevada and Southern Nevada:
- Paul McCullough from LVMPD’s fatal detail
- John Penuelas, Senior Director of Engineering for RTC of Southern Nevada
- Douglas Fraser, Chief of Trauma for UMC Trauma Center
- Andrew Bennett, Public Information Officer for Nevada Department of Public Safety
- Rebecca Kapuler, Senior Planner for the RTC Washoe
- Bryan Zink from CCSD Police
The solutions for keeping all road users safe isn’t easy and will require cooperation from all road users and a lot of funding from every level; but doing nothing about this issue will take far more from us. The brave families who participated in the documentary are all the convincing you should need.
Documentarian Brad Horn said during the premiere that he knew he wanted to tell a story about pedestrian safety; but he wasn’t prepared for the depth of the issue, how much he would learn and how haunting the stories of these three lives lost would be.
I hope you take 26 minutes from your life and gather your family close and watch the documentary, you too could be saving a life… and that was the goal of every person involved.
For more information, and to get involved, visit https://pedsafe.vegas.
The documentary is available here:
And a two minute preview here: