"Harvey’s Law" Gets a Hearing
CARSON CITY, Nev. – Six years ago, a man with intellectual challenges choked to death on a Las Vegas paratransit bus, and the driver didn't have the training to help him.
Tomorrow, the State Assembly Transportation Committee hears a bill to require first-aid training for paratransit drivers.
It's called Harvey's Law, after 51-year-old Harvey Chernikoff, who passed away during the 16 minutes it took for his bus driver to notice the problem and then, for the paramedics to arrive.
Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo is a sponsor of the bill, and says the driver admitted he got confused.
"He did have time; when he did notice Harvey, he was still alive, but he didn't know what to do," Fumo said. "And he testified at the trial afterwards, saying, 'I wish I'd have known some CPR or medical training because I would have been able to help this poor guy.'"
The Chernikoff family won a $15 million lawsuit against First Transit, but the company is appealing, arguing it followed the law and thus, was not negligent. The Regional Transportation Commission had a multiyear, $230 million contract with First Transit, which was not renewed.
Ben Cloward, the Chernikoff family's attorney, says it was learned at the trial that First Transit offers a first-aid training course to its employees in other states, but chose not to offer it in Nevada because they didn't have to, by law.
"There's a template for this training, eight hours, but they just pulled that day of training because it wasn't required here in Nevada," he explained. "Harvey would be alive today if paratransit companies provided training to their drivers on how to save lives."
Cloward says the training in question costs $88 per employee, which he estimates would have cost the First Transit about $42,000 to implement in Nevada.