LANDSDOWNE, VA. (WUSA9) - The Landsdowne parents who lost their baby in a crosswalk crash are speaking out against distracted driving. Mindy and Rodney Schulz explained to WUSA9's Peggy Fox, that they've always had a special interest in safe driving.
"We're just taking it one day at a time," said Rod Schulz when asked how they're doing having to endure so much pain. The couple had two beautiful little boys. But on August 31, their lives were shattered at a Landsdowne intersection. Nine months later, they can barely speak about it.
"What happened was terrible. So we're trying to just do the best we can to help make the world around us a better place because of it," said Mindy.
On that summer morning, two days after the start of school in Loudoun County, Mindy was pushing baby Tristan in his stroller. At five months, he wasn't even old enough to crawl. As she walked in the crosswalk on Riverside Parkway, a man driving an SUV hit them, killing little Tristan.
Witnesses told police they saw the man looking at his phone. The Schulz's are acutely aware of safe driving, because Rod teaches it.
"We're both motorcycle operators and my husband is an instructor and safety is paramount. So, regardless of anything you've seen in the news, distracted driving is a serious issue nationwide and needs to be addressed," said Mindy Schulz.
Riverside High School is right down the street from where the tragedy happened. It's in the Schulz's neighborhood and Tristan would've gone to school here. But what happened that morning deeply connected the students.
"Two Riverside high school kids were on the scene. One of them tried to give Tristan CPR. And they were just emotionally scarred," said Delegate Thomas "Tag" Greason (R) Loudoun County.
Talking with their delegate, the students came up with a plan to turn a tragedy into something good. Delegate Greason approved. "They said...what if we got every high school in the paying attention to this issue and at the end, there's license plate. I was like, 'That's awesome!'"
Delegate and Greason asked the Schulzes to attend Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe's signing of the student's idea/bill into law on May 16. It'll create a new Virginia license plate with a strong message for all drivers.
"Put your phone down, idiot, on the license plate. It's really going to touch them because they were idiots," said student Severin Wao.
"It doesn't have to be something so subtle. Like, we want to be loud. We want people to realize how serious of an issue it is," said student Chad Musa.
It's a matter of life and death.
Riverside students will help publicize a contest for Virginia high school students across the state to come up with the best design and message for the new Distracted Driving License Plate.
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