“I have never met someone with special needs that is unhappy,” explained Cloward, when asked about his involvement in the case. “You are always greeted with a smile and hug. Harvey Chernikoff was no different and when I heard about his tragic death on the paratransit bus, I knew I had to get involved to make things right and bring him a voice. Oftentimes, folks with disabilities and special needs are minimized and their voices go unheard, their needs unmet.” In the six years since Harvey’s death, the Chernikoffs have made it their mission to ensure the same fate does not meet others, by working to pass Harvey’s Law. Harvey’s Law requires first aid and CPR training for all paratransit drivers. CPR training is required for paratransit drivers in many other states, but no such requirement existed in Nevada – until now. With the passage of Harvey’s Law as a starting point, the hope is to expand it to other public transit operators. “Paramedics and firefighters were at the legislature to encourage the bill and offered testimony in support. There were also folks in the disability community urging approval of the measure,” said Cloward. “Those with special needs can rest assured in knowing the drivers who transport them have received the training necessary to help in the event of a life-threatening medical event.” The Chernikoffs want to make sure all paratransit riders are safe. “And if Harvey’s Law can just save one life, it would be worth everything,” said Elaine. “No one should have to suffer and go through what Harvey did.” With Harvey’s Law on the books, hopefully no one else ever will. Ben Cloward, a graduate of the top tier University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law, has spent his career defending and protecting those in the community who have been injured or lost loved ones in accidents. Ben has accomplished a lot in his career as a trial lawyer. He was recognized as the Nevada Justice Association’s 2016-2017 Trial Lawyer of the Year, the youngest ever, and received the National Trial Lawyers “Top 40 Under 40” award, extended to the best young trial attorneys around the country. With Ben Cloward, the Chernikoff family was in good hands, and a civil jury awarded $15,000,000 in damages for Harvey’s death. Photo credit: http://news3lv.com/news/local/harveys-law-makes-its-way-to-the-nevada-legislature-with-hopes-of-saving-lives From Tragedy to Legacy: The Creation of Harvey’s Law O n his show, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, famed children’s television host Fred Rogers advised children, “In times of tragedy, look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Jack and Elaine Chernikoff are some of the helpers Mr. Rogers told us about. In 2011, their son Harvey boarded a Las Vegas paratransit bus, as he had done often before. But this time would be different; it would be his last ride. The 51-year-old mentally challenged man choked to death on a sandwich. The driver of the transit bus was not trained in first-aid and CPR, and could offer no assistance. Harvey died of asphyxiation while sitting right behind the driver as the only passenger on the bus. Aided by the Chernikoffs and their attorney, Richard Harris Law Firm partner Ben Cloward, AB234, also known as Harvey’s Law, was approved with no opposition by the State Assembly and Senate, and signed into law by Governor Sandoval on June 1, 2017. Harvey’s Law will allow the paratransit operator to immediately address the rider in distress and use basic life-saving techniques. In 2015, over 5,000 people died from choking-related causes, and choking remains the fifth leading cause of accidental death in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control. The simplest and most effective first aid action, proven to prevent a choking death, is abdominal thrusts; however, only a small percentage of the population has received training. Understandably, the Chernikoff family wishes the driver of the paratransit bus Harvey rode that day had known simple and effective first aid. “He testified if he’d known what to do, he would have done it,” said Elaine, Harvey’s mother. “He had no training.” When dealing with choking, and other medical emergencies, time is of the essence. When someone is choking with a blocked airway, no oxygen can enter the lungs. The brain is sensitive to this lack of oxygen and begins to die within four to six minutes. During this time first aid must take place. Irreversible brain death occurs in as little as 10 minutes. 27