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Memory of teen's death serves as reminder of importance of traffic safety

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Updated: 4/24 11:29 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- Nevada is seeing an upward trend in pedestrian deaths and starting Wednesday police around the state began joining forces to ticket people breaking traffic laws while driving and walking.

According to the Nevada department of public safety, more people are dying walking on our streets so far this year compared to last year. This spike in pedestrian deaths is especially difficult for one family to accept because they lost a teenage boy.

Crystal Hill, the teen’s mother, is now a big advocate for pedestrian safety. She says her son, 18-year-old Jesse Hill, was walking on a sidewalk. But she says this is one example that even if you are following the rules, it doesn't mean you're safe.

A DUI driver sped into Jesse and his girlfriend, 17-year-old Anne Marie Ricci, as they were walking on the sidewalk last year on New Year’s Day. Jesse was killed, and Anne Marie suffered a number of injuries. She can't remember the crash, but she was told Jesse tried to push her out of the way.

Jesse’s mother and Anne Marie recently walked down the rocky path back to the very spot they lost Jesse last year on New Year’s Day.

“It was crazy to think this was where were last together, and the last time I saw him,” said Anne Marie. “And it’s crazy to think this even had to have happened. It shouldn’t have.”

Jesse was one of 70 people killed last year walking on Nevada's roadways. And while crash data found 80 percent of the time pedestrians were at fault, Jesse was in the minority.

“They were on the sidewalk walking in broad daylight doing what they were supposed to be doing,” Crystal said. “That’s one of the hardest things about this.”

Law enforcement agencies are pushing pedestrians and drivers to follow traffic laws: use a cross walk, be aware of your surroundings both on your feet and behind the wheel, and take a moment to pause and think about how one action can affect the lives of many. Because while 70 is a number, for others, that number is the face of a son, a high school sweetheart, and a hero whose loved ones are left behind to walk life's path without him.

“Nothing can change what happened,” Anne Marie said. “None of this can be fixed, and it can never be forgotten.”

The push to obey the rules of the road will run from April 23 through May 13. The emphasis is on awareness for both drivers and pedestrians.
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