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WDoR provides a public square for a mother whose son was killed a thousand miles from home

    by Lori Markowitz

    On November 20th, 2022 my husband, Stephen, daughter, Jessica, and I gathered as much strength as we possibly could to travel to LA for the World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims event honoring our precious Josh. Tragically Josh was killed by a speeding, impaired driver on February 6th, 2021.

    On World Day of Remembrance last year, we began the painful and complicated process of memorializing Josh and calling attention to the conditions that created this tragic event.

    At 27, Josh was already an extraordinary entrepreneur, music producer, and DJ who performed around the world. He was known not solely for his talent but as an agent for good who deeply loved and cared for his community.

    Josh was killed over a thousand miles from our home. The distance and lack of connection to support, local politicians, and other decision-makers can make it tremendously difficult to memorialize loved ones and work for change at crash sites. 

    Difficult – but not impossible.

    Lori Markowitz and family, WDoR 2022

    As Nelson Mandela said: “It always seems  impossible until it is done.”

    To plan last year’s World Day of Remembrance event, I reached out to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Southern California (SoCal) Families for Safe Streets member Jeri Lynch, SoCal FSS supporting organization, LA Walks, and the Los Angeles 13th District Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell to appeal for a Rainbow Halo monument. Rainbow Halos – a project of the LA Department of Transportation, are colored glass installations commemorating those lost to traffic crashes in the city.

    On World Day of Remembrance, we stood beneath the Halo, joined by Josh’s USC community, close family friends, Families for Safe Streets, LA Walks’ Director John Yi, Streets Are For Everyone community members, and LA city officials.

    Josh Markowitz’s Rainbow Halo

    In 2021, the year we lost Josh, 300 others were killed in crashes in Los Angeles. Under the colorful Rainbow Halo memorializing our only son, we urged the city’s political leadership to recommit to the city’s Vision Zero goal: zero deaths by 2025.

    Yet, a year after we gathered at Josh’s memorial site, crashes in Los Angeles are well over 300.

    When we return to Josh’s Halo this coming November 19th, it will be with renewed strength, having formed meaningful relationships with unexpected allies.

    For our World Day of Remembrance event in Los Angeles this year, FSS SoCal will partner with acclaimed playwright and author, Colin Campbell*, who lost his two teenage children to a drunk driver in 2019 and hold a memorial vigil where Colin will speak and share his story. Colin has written a book about grief and has written and stars in a one-man play chronicling this unfathomable event. Before he begins, he tells his audience, “Tonight, you are going to get taken to some uncomfortable places.”

    On World Day of Remembrance, we are asking our elected leadership to muster the compassion, courage, and yes, discomfort, to make the bold and proven changes that can end this nightmare on our streets.

    And this ask is really a small thing when you think of the courage it takes for those of us who have loved and lost in such a brutal way to stand up and demand it.

    On November 19th, I hope you will join me, Colin, and the thousands who have lost loved ones across the country to honor those we have lost and demand change.

    * On October 4th, Colin Campbell will perform excerpts from his play and hold an audience conversation, in-person and streaming live, for an audience of Families for Safe Streets members and partner organizations. Learn more about this special event and get tickets here.