Family pushes MnDOT to erect guard rail at crash site that killed 19-year-old son

For seven months now, there has been a gaping hole in the Schmidt family.

Their middle child and brother Cristian are both gone, and the pain is sometimes too much to bear.

“We miss him every day, every single day,” said Sara Schmidt. “My heart drops every single day.”

Cristian Schmidt was just 19 and a recent Champlin Park High School graduate who started on the football team and had a huge circle of friends when he was killed.

At 3:26 a.m. Jan. 17, Cristian’s vehicle plowed right into a concrete bridge pillar of the Hemlock Lane Bridge while heading west on Hwy. 610.

The car exploded on impact.

His parents insist they will never forget the state trooper showing up at their front door in Dayton.

“It’s replayed in my mind many, many times,” said Sara.

A thorough investigation and an autopsy never determined why Cristian left the freeway at such a high rate of speed. His mom and dad figure he might have fallen asleep at the wheel.

One thing they were quite certain about, however, was that the public needed more protection from the bridging infrastructure. They felt the bridge was too exposed and way too close to the freeway.

The family pressed MnDOT to make safety upgrades in the area and just recently made progress.

The state’s transportation agency had a guard rail installed at a cost of nearly $18,000.

“I would hate for anybody else to go through this,” Sara said. “This is just what it took, I guess, for MnDOT to get something done. We don’t want any more death."