FLAGSTAFF, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- Rachel Tso Cox didn’t get to watch her son, Zaadii, get a law degree or go to a high school dance. Zaadii was hit by a distracted driver while walking in a crosswalk with his mother and sister in Flagstaff in 2015. He later died.
At just three years old, Rachel says he really enjoyed life and loved superheroes. “He wasn’t shy. At all. He would dance. And you know, talk to people. He loved to wear his cape and jump off the couch," Rachel said.
Zaadii’s adult years are now playing out on the colorful pages of a new comic book. “It’s a bereaved mom’s dream come true is what I’ve been saying, because we don’t get to see our children grow up. And in this, we get to see him grow up," Rachel said.
Zaadii is the superhero in “Zaadii: The Legend of Z-Hawk.” The main character is based off the real Zaadii and is an environmentalist fighting for the rights of an indigenous nation, protecting water and catching the bad guys. Rachel says it’s not your average adulthood.
“He keeps his morals and values, you know,” Rachel said. “He just like ties them [the bad guys] up and gets them ready for the police."
The story was commissioned by The Travelers Companies and was a year in the making. The writer of the adventure, Gail Simone, is behind more than 600 comic books, but none about a real person.
“That brought its own, I wouldn’t call them challenges, I would call them opportunities, to try to make sure that we stayed true to his character, his family his heritage,” Simone said.
Simone talked with Rachel and they developed a sister-like bond, she says. Zaadii is Navajo and his full name, Zaadii Tozhon, means “speak with the power of gentle water.”
“He was a very special kid. And I'm so thankful that his life gets to on in this way.”
Zaadii will now always be a superhero and his animated journey has a serious message: to end distracted driving.
"I want people to think about what it could be like if they were to hurt or kill somebody else because of their actions," Rachel said. "Because as hard as it is to be me, I think it is just as hard to be that person who did it."
Rachel has gone to high schools and middle school to talk about the dangers of mindless driving. The family also established an organization called The Zaadii Foundation.