MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In less than two hours, Minnesota’s new hands-free law goes into effect.

For drivers, that means buying accessories or changing habits, but for too many families, this is about much more.

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More than 500 people have died from distracted driving over the past 10 years, but state lawmakers failed to pass the law year after year. Now, it’s those brokenhearted relatives who finally made it happen.

“I’m not the only one who lost a child. I’m not the only family who’s suffering, so we have a team — a so-called club,” Vijay Dixit said.

And membership, comes at the highest cost.

Melissa Goeltz Loomis lost her sister, Tom Goeltz lost his daughter and Vijay Dixit lost his little girl, too.

“If you ask me, ‘How did it feel?’ I think I would be speechless. I just cannot tell you,” Dixit said.

Shreya from Eden Prairie, a standout singer, was killed by a distracted driver while heading home from her dorm in Madison.

Megan Goeltz was killed by a distracted driver near Stillwater. She was pregnant with her second child.

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“I have to be the voice of her unborn child, the 2-and-half-year-old boy I should be holding right now instead of talking to you about it,” Tom Goeltz said.

But he has been talking about it — a lot.

After being shot down time and again by lawmakers, he didn’t give up. Nor did Vijay.

“We find a lot of times, excuses to heal, this is what I’m supposed to do,” Dixit said.

They rallied together, rehashing the pain they experienced and the pain they are still experiencing, like on Megan’s sister’s wedding day. It’s a pain for which there is no cure.
A pain they are trying so hard to prevent for other families.

They’re families with broken hearts who are trying to keep everyone else’s whole.

“It’s too late; it’s too late for me. We’ve suffered the loss, our group, our whole coalition, we’ve all suffered the loss. We are trying to save you and everyone else out there we are trying to save,” Goeltz said.

They’ve done their part. Now it’s time for the rest of us to do ours.

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“It is you citizens have to take it in the grassroots and make it a success or this particular law will stay just on the books,” Dixit said.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield