Boca Raton/FL The headlines are ubiquitous. ‘Driver Who Killed Cyclist Unknown’, ‘Man Going 84 in a 45 mph Zone in Fatal Hit &,Run’,’Dad Seeks Answer in Son’s Death’, ‘A Hit and Run with Consequences’ all appeared in the span of one month in a South Florida regional newspaper. The perpetrators fled the scene leaving families devastated and law enforcement with tragedies that could have been prevented. In every instance the facts were compounded and carry illegal and emotional consequences.
According to Rick Brouse, President and Co-Founder of the newly formed Families Against Hit and Runs www.stophitandruns.org, a Florida based, not for profit organization comprised of community activists, “The problem of Hit & Runs has reached epidemic proportions. One out of five accidents on American roadways results in a ‘crash and dash’ scenario. It is the impassioned mission of the founders and volunteers to embrace a time when civic duty and a sense of community prevailed.” “A time when if anyone so much as bumped another car in a parking lot, the driver would leave a note with their contact information on the windshield,” opines Brouse.
“The statistics speak volumes about the deteriorating moral fiber of America”, says FAH&R Vice President and Co-founder Patrick Atkinson. He confirms that according to figures released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, “Pedestrian deaths are climbing faster than motorist’s fatalities. Drivers bolting the scene have become tragically commonplace.” Reaching approximately 1600 deaths and countless injuries last year; pedestrian deaths climbed 30% from 2010 to 2016. Approximately 1,500 people died in 2014 to 2015 by hit and run drivers and with another 100,483 people injured.
“Hitting a pedestrian or another vehicle without informing the authorities was and should be both morally unthinkable. We wish to reiterate in our message that leaving the scene of an accident without informing the authorities is illegal, a punishable offense and reprehensible.” says Brouse.
“In order to further our mission and increase public awareness FAH&R is participating in public events such as the Cirque de Raw hosted by the Hippocrates Institute, Art Basil – Miami, the Jewels Foundation ‘Decorum and Etiquette Training’ , the recent African Heritage Festival hosted by former Commissioner Barbara J. Jordan, District 1 – Miami Dade County. Preparations are being made for the forthcoming Miss Miami Broward Carnival & Pageant directed by Yolanda Henry in September 2017.
Educational outreach programs, the launch of the FAH&R Road Angels App and a targeted media campaign with media partners PRGlobalMedia are all the ways FAH&R are advancing public awareness.
A 3: minute Public Service Announcement was produced with victims of ‘Hit and Runs’ and is airing on social media outlets and the FAH&R website. Directed by Los Angeles based Christian Johnston of Complex Films and Shelby Knick Photography.
Those that appeared in the P.S.A. are not actors. They are an ad hoc group of volunteers with one thing in common; all of their lives had been personally impacted by a Hit & Run. Appearing in the PSA are Vasiliki Karlin, Founder of Nayked Botanicals and whose husband is a Broward County Sherriff. They lost a friend while parking for an outing at the beach. Tom Pellezzetti, President of Arrowhead Grass Fed Beef, whose family is adamant about how important it is to “do the right thing” to keep societies “moral fabric strong and intact”. One of the most heart wrenching stories is that of Michael Markson, a FAH&R advocate for change who lost his baby sister when she was seventeen and was told she would “be alive today if the driver had had the decency to notify the Emergency Paramedics”.
“Our program does not call for more laws and civic control we are driven by education NOT incarceration.” Rick Brouse
The academic outreach program is slated to include first responders at the scene of accidents. “This includes, but is not limited to enforcement officers, crash investigators, insurance adjusters, emergency technicians, paramedics, and concerned citizens. Our overriding goal is to advance preventative measures by informing citizens of the proper procedures and protocols when involved in a Hit and Run accident. Many may not be aware of the serious legal ramifications of not calling authorities when one witnesses an accident,” says Florida Regional director of FAH&R, Edward Bernstein.
We are especially honored that Sheriff Ric L. Bradshaw of Palm Beach County Florida, Chief Richard Malinari of Union City, New Jersey and former House of Representative Irv Slosberg, who was responsible for the ‘Click it or Ticket’ legislation, have endorsed our program.
It is the aim of Families Against Hit & Runs to educate citizens, no matter their age, of the appropriate life saving protocols, to convey civic responsibility and to inspire students (and adults) to ‘do the right thing’ or there is no doubt the initial problem will be compounded.
For more information and for those who wish to stay informed of FAH&R activities and calendar of events please visit our website www.stophitandruns.org.