LANDSDOWNE, VA (WUSA9) - The removal of a temporary memorial for a baby killed while his mother pushed him in his stroller is drawing anger in Loudoun County.
Friends and family of the baby boy thought that a makeshift memorial would stay up until a permanent memorial could be put in place. But the Landsdowne on the Potomac homeowners association decided on Monday to take it down.
"It was incredibly shocking to me," said Sharon Wright, who lives nearby and drives by the spot everyday.
A single flower placed on the corner is now a far cry from what the memorial has been. For five months, the corner has been decorated with flowers and momentous for five-month-old Tristan Schulz.
"As we look at the pole, you know his picture was literally right in that black tape, and pulled down," said Wright.
On August 31, 2016, Tristan Schulz was killed in a crosswalk at the intersection of Riverside Parkway and Coton Manor Drive. The baby was in his stroller being pushed by his mother, Mindy Schulz, when an SUV hit them. Mindy Shultz was injured. Now, a memorial that brought the family much comfort is gone.
"Obviously there's a lot of hurt, pain and anger...The Schulz family needs to know that their community stands behind them in wanting a permanent and meaningful memorial," said family friend Katherine Stethem.
"It allowed me, as a nearby community resident, to take solace in knowing that his memory was still alive. And for the HOA to take it down without even much of a notification, it just surprised me," said Wright.
Friends of the Schulz family say they understood that the the temporary memorial would be allowed to stand until a permanent memorial could be put in place. That was never the plan, said Kevin DeTurris, president of the HOA, Landsdowne on the Potomac. He says another family's pain caused them to make the tough decision on Monday.
"Among the several complaints that we received, there was one family in particular, that stood out. They, too are going through a tragic death of a child. And, every time they drove through that intersection it causes them pain," DeTurris said.
The board, he said, had to make the difficult decision of weighing the pain to two different families. He said they added that to the fact that the temporary memorial was a violation of the HOA's covenants.
DeTurris said they are working with the Schulz family and V-DOT to place a permanent memorial on the corner.
What made the removal of the temporary memorial so painful for the Schulz family, is that it happened on Tuesday, which was five months and one day since Tristan died. That means, friends say, that the baby has now been deceased longer than he was alive.
John Miller, the man who hit Tristan Schulz and his mother, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and is awaiting trial.
(© 2017 WUSA)