Crash victims' son, husband, father: 'Things need to change'

Apr 30, 2013

A Seattle man who lost his parents and whose wife and infant son were critically injured by a drunk driver says these tragedies must be stopped. 

"This is preventable and it should be prevented," said Dan Schulte at a news conference Tuesday. "I don't know what that means yet. I don't know if I'm going to dedicate my life to this cause, which I might, but I do know that things need to change."

Schulte said the reality of his loss has been slowly sinking in.

"I think the first month I was running on adrenaline, and now it's like the second month. And now it's become my reality," he said. "I've definitely had moments of despair."

Schulte added he gains strength from his sister, his wife, and his son.

"That was a huge moment for me when I could first hold him (my son), and the same thing when I could feed him again (after the accident). I’ll always hold those moments close to my heart," he said. “I have a new life, and I have to deal with it. I have really hard moments, but when I see little Elias, I definitely have hope for the future."

Schulte said his wife has not spoken since the accident, but she has been sharing her emotions.

“She has a trach(estomy) in, so even if she wanted to talk right now, she can’t. And physiologically, she hasn’t recovered enough to speak. But she is communicating. Every day, it’s a little more," he said. 

It's not clear how much of the crash his wife remembers, Schulte said, but she appears to have some idea. 

"She’s been very sweet with me whenever I’ve talked about that. I don’t think she remembers the actual moment—and I’ve heard that maybe she never will remember the actual moment—but I think she has a pretty good idea of what’s going on," he said. 

The driver of the pickup truck that hit Schulte's vehicle has pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide, vehicle assault and reckless driving in the March 25 crash.

The crash killed Dennis and Judith Schulte, retired teachers from Kokomo, Ind., who had recently moved to Seattle.

“They were amazing people that affected thousands of people through their time as educators," said Schulte. "A lot of people have reached out to us and saying that our parents have made a huge impact in their lives, affected their career choices and the sort of people they are today.”

Lawmakers in Washington's state capitol are debating a proposal to increase jail time for repeat drunk driving offenders and to bar some of them from drinking.