Mark Vobis was a first responder in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, helping those who needed help when the city was plunged into chaos.
On the very same day, 21 years later, while riding his bike in Henderson, Vobis was critically injured when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver.
His wife, Jennifer Vobis, was joined by family, friends, law enforcement officers and road safety advocates in a candlelight vigil for her husband Sunday night near the spot where Mark was hit.
“This breaks my heart every day,” Jennifer Vobis said. “When I look at the man I love sitting in a hospital bed and I think of every other family who’s been through this, my heart breaks that much more.”
‘He does not deserve this’
Vobis, 53, is a marshal in the 8th Judicial District Court for Judge Veronica Barisich. In New York on 9/11 he was a court officer but on that day he was out on the streets helping people and providing first aid.
“I can’t tell you how much we miss and we can’t wait for him to be back,” Barisich said. “From being a 9/11 survivor to making sure his coworkers are protected every day, he always does it with a smile and a good story.
“Mark is a good person, and he does not deserve this.”
Vobis was riding his bicycle just before 8 p.m. Sept. 11 in the bike lane along St. Rose Parkway near South Maryland Parkway in Henderson when he was struck by a driver who didn’t stay at the scene or call for help.
“He was hit by some imposter of humanity who decided to run and to leave him to die on the street,” said Sandy Heverly, the executive director of Stop DUI Nevada.
According to Heverly, Vobis’ left side was left paralyzed. He’s looking at a long road to rehabilitation and recovery.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s out of the woods,” Heverly said about Vobis’ injuries.
‘This needs to stop’
Heverly said that Stop DUI Nevada wanted to get involved in helping to put the word out about Vobis’ ordeal because, she said, in hit-and-run situations the perpetrators are often impaired or involved in some other illegal activity.
The same sentiment was echoed by Lt. Bret Ficklin of the Metropolitan Police Department traffic bureau.
“I can tell you in the instances where we’re fortunate enough that we can immediately follow up on information we have and we are able to find the suspect in that hit-and-run, way more often than not, that subject is under the influence,” Ficklin said. “This needs to stop.”
The sheer number of hit-and-runs in Metro’s jurisdiction is “becoming a major problem,” Ficklin said.
“We get 400 hit-and-run calls a month,” Ficklin said. “This year so far we’re above 3,500 hit-and-run calls.”
Of the 114 fatals so far in 2022 in Metro’s jurisdiction, as of Sunday evening, 22 involve hit-and-runs. That’s compared with 15 last year, Ficklin said.
Traffic fatalities in Nevada and Clark County have crept upward as the year has progressed.
Heverly also called for beefed-up staffing levels at the Nevada State Police Highway Patrol across the state. And more traffic enforcement in general.
“When the arrests go down, deaths and injuries go up,” Heverly said.
Family offers $25K reward
The organizers of the vigil are hoping the media attention will spur more tips and information about the driver who struck Vobis.
There was no evidence left at the scene, or video footage, or anything else that would lead investigators to the person who did this, Heverly said.
But given the sheer amount of traffic zooming past the vigil on Sunday night, it would be hard to believe that nobody saw anything, said several of those attending the vigil, because St. Rose Parkway is a busy thoroughfare.
Jennifer Vobis also announced that the Vobis family is offering a $25,000 reward for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of whoever hit Mark Vobis and fled.
“Just when I thought my heart couldn’t break more, I think about how these kinds of crimes, how hit-and-runs, how DUIs traumatize families, break families apart and this shouldn’t be a thing,” Jennifer Vobis said. “Our communities deserve better.”