She was the only survivor in the crash that killed nine people in North Las Vegas 10 months ago. She sat in her walker beside the podium because she couldn’t stand at it — her lingering injuries still affecting her mobility.
Tiffani May Noel is grateful that she is still alive.
But it’s been a long journey for her since that terrible night on Jan. 29 in North Las Vegas when Gary Dean Robinson, 59, plowed through a red light at 103 mph, causing a six-vehicle crash at Cheyenne Avenue and Commerce Street. He had high levels of cocaine, PCP and alcohol in his system, a toxicology report found.
The crash killed Robinson, his passenger and seven members of the same family who were in a minivan. Noel, whose vehicle was also hit, suffered multiple injuries.
“I have a doctor for almost each part of my body and I’m still in therapy and I’m making slow progress,” Noel told the audience, also adding that she didn’t want to do any interviews with media outlets who were covering Sunday’s event. She said she’s had to learn how to walk again. She’s also had to sharpen her cognitive and fine motor skills.
“My life is completely different now,” Noel said. “I have to assure that all the places I go are accessible. I frequently have challenges with my health insurance providers.”
Noel recounted the horror of those moments to a sparse audience at the Clark County Government Center Amphitheater on Sunday night for the fourth observance in Las Vegas of the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
Four adults and five children died in the crash: Fernando Yeshua Mejia, 5; Adrian Zacarias, 10; Lluvia Daylenn Zacarias, 13; Bryan Axel Zacarias, 15; Gabriel Mejia-Barrera, 23; David Mejia-Barrera, 25; and Jose Zacarias-Caldera, 35.
In the aftermath, Noel could hear the reality of what happened playing out around her.
“While laying there, I could hear distinct sounds of women weeping, screams, crying and hollers, people telling me not to move and it was going to be OK,” she said. “I distinctly remember hearing, ‘Oh my god, the babies, the babies!’”
Started in 1993 by a British charity that helps crash victims, the day — which takes place on the third Sunday in November — was adopted by the United Nations in 2005.
The timing of the day, which coincides with the week leading up to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, is not ideal because it means smaller crowds at events like the one Sunday night in Las Vegas, but it’s also a good reminder to be cautious on the roads as the holiday season gets going, said Erin Breen, the organizer of the Las Vegas event.
Breen, the director of the Road Equity Alliance Project at UNLV, said the aim of the day is to remember those who have died in crashes, celebrate survivors and honor law enforcement, emergency responders like fire crews and paramedics, and medical personnel.
“Last night we had our 215th fatality of the year in just Clark County,” Breen said, explaining that the total includes all cities in the county including Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson. “So what it means is that 14 people have died since Nov. 1, which is more than the one every day and a half that we’ve been averaging in 2022. So last year we had a record increase. We were up 22 percent. We were up 19 percent the year before. So we’re seeing a really steep trajectory.”
Ivonne Moya was also there to honor her son Francisco Larco Moya, who was 21 when he was killed in a crash at Charleston and Lamb boulevards in September 2021.
“My son was a good son, a good brother, good employee, good friend,” said Ivonne Moya, who cried while talking about her late son.