Dan Schulte told a crowd of residents gathered in memory of his parents and in a call for safer streets that being a public figure feels “strange” to him. In fact, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to be at the planned memorial walk and rally.
“But when I think of my parents, I could not possibly be anywhere else,” he said in a powerful and emotional speech on the lawn of Eckstein Middle School. He hopes his family’s story can give a boost to efforts to prevent impaired driving.
The walk and rally was held exactly one year after a drunk driver struck and killed Dan’s parents, Dennis and Judy, and seriously injured his wife Karina and 10-day-old son Elias. The man behind the wheel, Mark Mullan, pleaded guilty and is in prison.
“Karina is incredibly brave and courageous,” he said. “Elias has had to go through more in his first year than many have to go through in a lifetime.”
State Senator David Frockt (46th District) said his grandparents were also killed in a collision involving impaired driving (in Tennessee), and gave the Schulte family words of hope. (UPDATE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Sen Frockt’s parents were killed. It was his grandparents. We regret the error.)
“Life moves on,” he said. “Eventually, joy and happiness overcome those memories.”
Schulte, Frockt and other speakers — including Dan’s sister Marilyn and Courtney Popp of MADD — noted during the rally that when it comes to preventing further tragedies, “there are many policies and solutions on the table.”
But Dan Schulte is sure of one thing: “I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
The rally and walk kicked off a week of events for the first ever Safe Roads Awareness Week. Organized by several northeast Seattle neighborhood councils, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, SDOT and more, the week includes events focused on impaired driving and other safe streets solutions. See more details in our previous post.
Though the still-unfolding tragedy in Oso has Governor Jay Inslee’s attention at the moment, he sent Darrin Grondel, director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, to give his best wishes to the family. Grondel also called for state-level action on DUI injuries and deaths to “end this epidemic that keeps plaguing our society.”
“Two people gave their lives for something that was totally needless and absolutely avoidable,” said Grondel. He went further to call for an end to traffic deaths in Washington State. He acknowledged that some people might hear about “vision zero” and say, “You’re a little bit crazy. How are we ever going to get there?”
But if we don’t set goals, we’ll never get there, Grondel said.