Flagstaff boy killed by distracted driver honored in new comedian e-book
Zaadii Tozhon Tso always wore superhero capes.
His life revolved around superhero films like “Ultraman” and “Batman”. But he never had a chance to become a superhero in real life. His life was cut short by a distracted driver on February 22, 2015 when Zaadii was only 3 years old.
Zaadii died in the hospital as a result of the accident. His mother, Rachel Tso Cox, said doctors said her son was in no pain. She attributed this to the superhero cloak Zaadii wore during the accident and said that it made him feel always strong.
Now, more than five years after his death, he is one of the first Navajo comic book superheroes to be given his own cloak.
Zaadii is the hero of the new comic strip “Zaadii: The Legend of Z-Hawk”, which was unveiled on Thursday morning at the New York Comic Con virtual event.
The Birth of Batman: Every Great Superhero Needs a Cape
Zaaditozhon or Zaadii was born 11 days late on the 11th day of the 11th month of 2011. His family called him Mr. Eleventy, according to Cox.
He grew up with two older sisters and attended Star Charter School in Flagstaff, which teaches children ages 3 and up. Cox said Zaadii loved school more than anything. Except maybe superheroes.
He also loved his sisters. His older sister Bahozhoni had a Frozen Elsa cloak, and Zaadii always wore it and ran around like a superhero.
“I had to get him his own cloak,” said Cox.
She opened Amazon and flipped through the costumes while Zaadii hugged her side.
“Then I found Batman and we saw that it had a cloak and he just loved it. So I ordered it,” said Cox.
Cox also ordered the “Batman” movie starring Adam West, which sparked Zaadi’s interest in superheroes.
“The costume came a few days after the movie,” she said. “He put it on in early October and the kid didn’t take it off,” she said with a laugh.
According to Cox, Batman became Zaadi’s identity.
“Once he put the mask on … he’d go into the Batman voice, and boy, he was a character!” Said Cox.
The family even had to come up with creative ways to get him out of the costume and wash the suit. At one point, Cox could only get Zaadii to take a bath and wash the suit by bathing him in costume.
“At the time when I was so frustrated that it needed to be cleaned, the costume needed to be cleaned. I just said, ‘Ugh! I just bathe you two together,'” she said, laughing at the memory.
Batman leads a drummer dance at school
As usual, Zaadii came to school on Thursday, February 19, 2015 in his Superman costume. The school had a cultural gathering that day, which Cox said was attended by an African drummer.
“As soon as he started drumming, Zaadii jumped off the stands in his Batman costume, ran to the drummer and started dancing,” said Cox.
Zaadi’s teacher followed him and brought him back to sit peacefully with the other children. However, the drummer encouraged Zaddii to keep dancing, Cox said. The drummer asked his name and the teacher told the drummer his name was Zaadii.
“I’m not Zaadii, I’m Batman!” Zaadii roared loudly at Cox.
“Well, everyone, be like Batman,” said the drummer. “Get up and dance!”
According to Cox, the entire school, including teachers and administrators, danced to the beat of the drums.
“I think that’s a perfect ending for him at this school that leads everyone to a dance,” said Cox with tears in his eyes.
The fall of Batman at the wheel of a distracted driver
It stormed the followingSunday.
Cox teaches video journalism at Northern Arizona University and has worked tirelessly on a documentary film project. It only took one more shot: the storm.
She needed a special lens for high quality time lapse photography and was on her way to Best Buy in Flagstaff to find the perfect one.
Cox remembered Zaadii and Bahozhoni begging to come, and she saidIt had to be a quick entry and exit.
“He put his shoes on and turned them on the wrong side with no socks,” said Cox. Zaadii also wore his infamous Batman costume.
The journey at Best Buy was quick and Cox said she remembered Zaadii behaving extremely well. To reward his and his sister’s good manners, she treated them with pink soda at a nearby market.
“After that we went back to Best Buy where I was parked. It would have been quicker and easier to walk through the parking lot, but I was greatrelentlessly teaching the kids how to cross streets properly … so we went across the zebra crossing, “said Cox.
Cox remembers making her children look both ways, and the three were holding hands that were crossing the street.
When they were almost on the sidewalk, a distracted 66-year-old driver made a sharp right turn in the wrong lane, wiped Cox and Bahozhoni on the hood of the car, and pulled Zaadii under the tires, according to the Arizona Daily Sun.
“I felt his hand pull away from me,” said Cox, crying.
Bahozhoni sustained injuries to her hip and pelvic bones, and Cox sustained injuries to her right side, including a broken leg.
When Zaadii was in the hospital, his family, friends, and school staff came to the hospital to sing the traditional Navajo travel song.
“His very last heartbeat was on the last beat of this song and it was almost like being in a movie. It was so tragic and traumatic, but at the same time beautiful because he was surrounded by so many people who loved him,” said Cox through tears.
She believes he insisted in the most peaceful way he could have.
“I know he wanted to live, I know he loved his life so much,” said Cox. “A kid who grew up with so much love and support. I just expected him to honestly change the world.”
Cox mourns her fallen hero
“It felt very unfair, it still feels very unfair. We did everything right, we held hands, we used the zebra crossing,” said Cox.
For the nine days after her son’s death, Cox followed Navajo practices to guide his mind.
She also found support from the MISS Foundation, which helps families grieving for the death of a child.
Cox now serves as the MISS group leader for others in Flagstaff or the Navajo Nation.
“I don’t think I would ever say the grief gets better. I would just say that you only get stronger,” said Cox.
“Believing Zaadii that he was a superhero helped because now I feel like I have to be for him,” she said. “And I managed to be the person Zaadii believed I was.”
Cox lives Zaadi’s purpose every day through the Zaadii Foundation, which is committed to raising awareness of distracted driving. She runs friendliness campaigns and book drives, and speaks at high schools to discuss the importance of mindfulness while driving.
The Zaadii Foundation encourages others to pledge against distracted driving.
The Rise of Z-Hawk: Bringing Zaadi’s Legacy Back to Life
“For the innocent of this city and the bad guys who try to hurt it … I have another name. They call me Z-Hawk … and I am a protector,” reads “Zaadii: The Legend of Z- Hawk “. “
The comic was released on Travelers’ ThursdayUnfinished Stories series that tells the stories of those killed by distracted driving.
“It’s a grieving mother’s dream come true,” said Cox. “It just feels so good because it allows your life to shine and live in a great way.”
The comic was written and illustrated by Gail Simone, J. Calafiore and Jeffrey Veregge, three notable names in the comic community.
“We had never seen anyone approach what could have been. So what we found in Zaadi’s story … is a story that resonates with people in general, but certainly in the eyes of their families, friends and loved ones . It’s an effort to honor their memories, “Michael Klein told Travelers.
The book is available in PDF format and on the Travelers website (https://www.travelers.com).
Cox is grateful for the company’s work to raise awareness of the distracted driving problem and to live on Zaadi’s memory.
“I actually took the comic book to the tomb and read every page on the grave … so he could see it, I think,” said Cox, crying. “I know he would have been really happy.”
Reach out to news reporter Katelyn Keenehan at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @KatelynKeenehan.