Student documentary brings a tear |

Student documentary brings a tear

Carson High screening shows tragic results of auto accidents
by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Vicki Hathaway reacts while watching a documentary about her son during a presentation of the Carson High School Project Ignition Driver Awareness program at the high school on Wednesday morning.

A lone tear escaped Vicki Hathaway’s eye and slid down her cheek.

The image of her 17-year-old son on the screen at the final Project Ignition presentation Wednesday morning brought back memories.

Justin died May 23, 2004, in a single rollover accident when the family dog, wanting to be in the front seat, jumped from the back and distracted the driver.

Carson High School’s advanced video production students sought out Hathaway and her daughter, Debbie, to document their experience for the Project Ignition concept called “Building Awareness. Taking Action.”

“I was surprised when they called,” Hathaway said. “I thought it was great what they were trying to do. What they don’t realize is (this) gives the families an outlet for healing – and something to do to help not have it happen to another family.”

Hathaway and Debbie were there for the screening, along with members from the media, sheriff’s department, legislature, school district and more.

In addition to the documentaries in their project, students also built a remembrance wall; produced a Community Awareness Fair, that brought over 500 people; and erected 20 safe-driving signs that read “Slow down, our kids matter” on lawns along roads deemed “high-speed” by the Carson City Sheriff’s Department.

“I think this is an excellent project,” said John Snyder, who lost his 16-year-old daughter Nicole Snyder on July 12, 2004, on Highway 395 after another vehicle hit the median and then landed on Nicole’s car. “It’s very detailed. Hopefully, it will make everyone more aware – not just teenagers.”

Snyder was present with his wife, Patti. The film also featured the story of Kevin Petersen, a former Carson High student, who lost use of his legs Dec. 31, 2001, after the driver of the vehicle he was in hit a patch of black ice and rolled. He was delivering papers for the Nevada Appeal.

“I can’t feel anything from the waist down,” Petersen says on film. “Actually, it’s not very painful. There’s no pain at all.”

Carson High was one of 25 high schools nationwide awarded a $2,000 grant to develop a project. The final project is due at State Farm Insurance in Minnesota on Tuesday.

Teacher Brian Reedy will send the portfolio after adding clips from the mural and video presentation.

“I’m really glad the project is completed and I’m happy with how it turned out,” said student Tyler Bournes, who led the project along with students Heidi Flansberg, Greg Saunders, Lydia Peri and Alejandra Melgarejo.

Bournes said he’s spent two to three hours a day after school working on the project. A recent study released by the Corporation for National and Community Service found that 55 percent of teens volunteer their time compared with 29 percent of adults. And, according to a spokesman for Gov. Kenny Guinn, a proclamation will be given to the Carson High Project Ignition team for their efforts.

“We’re trying to do a lot more pushing of this kind of stuff – service-learning,” said Andrew Heilman, spokesman with the Nevada Commission for National and Community Service Inc., who was at the presentation.

The top 10 entrants in Project Ignition will be announced in late January. The winner, announced later in the school year, receives a $10,000 grant.

— Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at or 881-1219.