Early on the morning of Sept. 13, a 24-year-old man named Gary Lee Hosey, Jr. slaughtered four people and injured several others. He was screaming down Spring Mountain Road in his Monte Carlo, reportedly drunk and possibly going as fast as 100 mph, when he left the road and plowed into a bus stop. (According to a Metro officer that Joe Schoenmann interviewed for the Las Vegas Sun, Hosey’s car may have actually been airborne when it hit the stop.) As Hosey was extracted from the wreck, a witness at the scene actually heard him say, “Did I make it to the liquor store?”
I’m kind of dumbstruck, to be honest with you. People are asking me how I feel about this because I take the bus every day. It’s a stretch to say that I could have been at that bus stop, but I stand at many others over the course of a week, and it’s not unthinkable that I could be run down at one of them. Then again, I could also be hit in a crosswalk, in a parking lot or even inside a building. Drunk drivers aren’t fussy; they’ll plow you down pretty much anywhere at ground level.
But people waiting at a bus stop are particularly vulnerable. They’re inches from speeding traffic, and inches from drivers with little patience for pedestrians even on their sober days. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Las Vegans view pedestrians as a sub-class. One commenter on Schoenmann’s Sun story actually wrote this:
“I always see people waiting at these bus stops with ear buds, texting, not even paying attention to the fact that they are inches from vehicles going by at 40-50 mph. You’ve got so many crazy, stupid drivers in this town and
pedestrians are really in danger and yet they continue to isolate themselves in music and texting.”
I won’t even speak to the physics of this; I’d like to see this man try to dodge a car headed at him at 100 mph, even without the distraction of an iPhone. True, it’s wise to be attuned to your surroundings, especially when you’re standing close to traffic—but people should have a reasonable expectation of safety when they’re standing at a transit stop, just as drivers have a reasonable expectation of safety when they get behind the wheel of a car.
So as I understand it, this town’s consensus position is that when a car’s safety measures fail—seatbelts disengage, airbags fail to inflate—drivers have a legal recourse. But when a pedestrian is struck and killed on a Las Vegas sidewalk, it’s his fault that he isn’t in a car.
I dunno. As I said, I’m kind of at a loss to understand this. This is the very definition of a senseless tragedy, and my heart goes out to everyone affected by it—the families and friends of the victims, the passengers in Hosey’s car. I even feel kind of sorry for Hosey himself, because he’s probably going to have a lifetime in incarceration to think over what he did before he even turned 25.
But it’s not my place to say what should happen to him, or what should be done with Las Vegas’ bus stops. Some have suggested that they should be set back further from the roadway (a good idea), and/or surrounded by concrete reinforcements (an expensive and impractical idea). I don’t make traffic laws, and I don’t hold RTC’s purse strings. I just ride the bus.
And I’m going to keep riding the bus. It’s risky, sure, but there are risks in everything: in walking, in driving, in simply standing stock still. If this tragedy gets drivers to reconsider that third drink or moves RTC to reposition its bus stops, that’s good. But I still have to get home tonight, and I’m going to use the bus to do it. Despite these horrific events, it’s still a good idea.