On a crisp Thursday morning, 83-year-old Doris Stoehr was crossing six lanes of traffic on Decatur Boulevard when a car struck and killed her in the very location where she had lobbied for a crosswalk.
It was an abrupt end to a life serving others. At age 67, the grandmother and former nurse went to Haiti with the Peace Corps to work at village clinics. When I spoke with her in 2000, she was 71 years old and leaving for Jamaica to teach HIV education, her last assignment with the corps. “I love what I do,” she said. “I’ve been a nurse for 50 years. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
To her friends and family, she simply said, “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.”
Why she was crossing Decatur earlier this month is a mystery. Her son Brian Stoehr says that her morning walk rarely extended beyond Las Vegas Manor, the senior complex where she lived, and that having a car meant she didn’t need to walk across the busy road. After all, she knew the dangers.
Las Vegas Manor abuts Decatur between Lake Mead Boulevard and Vegas Drive. Though there are stoplights and a crosswalk at each intersection, frail seniors would rather jaywalk to the bank across the street. So late last year Stoehr and other residents requested a crosswalk. A city spokesman says traffic engineers conducted a study and that the city approved the crosswalk (and flashing lights), wrapping it in with an ADA-compliant sidewalk project there. The city estimates the crosswalk will be completed in three months. Metro is still investigating the accident, which marked the fifth pedestrian death this year.
Stoehr’s family, meanwhile, has opened the Doris Stoehr Crosswalk Memorial Fund through Wells Fargo Bank to put a remembrance of Stoehr at the site.