Family, friends and neighbors of Donald Duckett, who was fatally injured Sept. 19 when he was struck by a car while riding his motorized wheelchair in a crosswalk on Prater Way, congregated at the accident scene Saturday.
The group, which numbered about 20, gathered at the intersection of Prater Way and Lillard Drive, just outside the Sparks Police Department headquarters, to not only show support for Duckett but to protest how his accident was handled by police and showcase the need for motorists to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
They carried signs and a large photograph of Duckett while making several trips through the Prater Way crosswalk, which doesn’t have signal lights. During the protest, several motorists appeared perplexed when approaching the crosswalk. It also wasn’t unusual to observe cars traveling in excess of the 35 mph speed limit.
“It would have been nice to have had a radar gun,” said Jack McCreary, the organizer of the protest who lives a few blocks from the crosswalk. “It’s very evident from this afternoon how many people fail to slow down for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.”
The death of 77-year-old Duckett, who was well-known in the neighborhood, went largely unnoticed for weeks until the Sparks Tribune published details of the fatal accident earlier this month. Members of his family said they were angry about the lack of cooperation from Sparks police when they sought details of the accident, and they also questioned whether the police investigation was proper.
The driver of the car that struck Duckett and his wheelchair was given a citation at the scene for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. A month after the accident, he appeared at the counter at Sparks Municipal Court and paid a $175 fine.
Family members told the Sparks Tribune that they made numerous phone calls to police to learn more about the accident. They said police told them they couldn’t comment because the accident was under investigation. Police Lt. Chad Hawkins admitted that police had “dropped the ball” in handling the family’s inquiries.
Family members eventually hired an attorney, who was able to get a copy of the accident report for them.
During Saturday’s demonstration, protestors carried signs, including ones that read: “Stop for Pedestrians. Save a Life” and “Hit Me. Kill Me. Pay $175.00 to the city of Sparks.”
McCreary said he organized the demonstration to bring attention to crosswalk safety but also to highlight the circumstances surrounding Duckett’s accident and the investigation.
“We all knew (Duckett) in the neighborhood,” he said. “We miss him. He shouldn’t have lost his life just trying to get out and do what he wanted to do each day.”