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Henrico woman turns tragedy into fuel to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe

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Posted at 11:05 AM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 18:33:49-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Laura Pho never misses a pilgrimage to a roadside memorial near her West End home. She started visiting two months ago, sometimes two and three times a day.

“July 27th of this year. 2020," said Laura.

It's a routine she never expected.

“I feel so at peace that she is with me," said Laura.

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Laura Pho

On a day in late July, Laura's mom, Lucy Le, started her morning walk. A quiet time to connect with nature in Henrico's West End.

“She loved these trees and we’re on a wooded lot," said Laura. “She was always present. She never had her phone on her.”

In an instant a Jeep moved out of a driveway. Lucy was standing in its path.

“Backed into her, died on scene," said Laura.

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Lucy Le

The 76-year-old grandmother was just steps from her daughter's front door.

“It was a horrific scene. Jarring to witness to say the least," Laura recalled.

Laura is making sure her mother, the woman with a gentle smile and who cared for strangers, did not die in vain.

“Even when she was on this earth, she was doing that. And I still feel that 100%. Yes. She is the wind behind me. Absolutely," said Laura.

The crash scene now bursts with chalk artwork. Beaming like Lucy's spirit.

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“We tried to reclaim and beautify helped to erase the jarring scene," said Laura.

Out of the tragedy, Laura is channeling her energy by raising awareness about pedestrian safety.

“All of the people who are victims of traffic violence, fatalities or injuries... those are the heroes. It is incumbent upon us to move their legacy forward and make the streets safer," said Laura.

Brantley Tyndall empathizes with Laura. He nearly lost his mother 20 years ago.

"We're not done until traffic fatalities are reduced to zero," said Tyndall. “My mom was hit by a drunk driver when I was in high school in 2002 or 2003.”

Brantley, who works with Sports Backers Bike Walk RVA, says drivers need to be extra cautious during the pandemic.

“Across the board everyone is reporting more people walking. More people biking," said Brantley. “Slow down and watch for people.”

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More walkers and cyclists increase the chances of injuries and fatalities.

“The next step in the solution is more places for people to walk and bike safely. So, sidewalks, bike lanes paved trails. And slower speeds is a major one," said Brantley.

“My mother’s spirit is so expansive. Her heart so gracious. So incredibly kind," said Laura.

Laura is joining the non-profit to prevent similar crashes. When she is not visiting the roadside memorial, the mother of two makes offerings at the family’s altar dedicated to Lucy.

“It is a way of showing love and honor and care and devotion," said Laura.

While becoming a champion of safer streets, Laura Pho wants to remind you to drive with care. Someone else’s life depends on it.

“I miss her whispering 'It will be OK' or 'I’m proud of you,'" said Laura. “I know my mom is proud and that is what is carrying me through.”

The crash that claimed Lucy Le's life is still under investigation by Henrico County Police.

Ms. Le would have turned 77-years old on September 5.

Greg McQuade features local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email heroes@wtvr.com.

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