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It’s been exactly one year since a repeat drunk driver plowed into Dan Schulte’s family as they walked on a sunny Spring day in Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood. On the anniversary, he’s speaking out in hopes others don’t have to endure the hell he’s gone through the past year.
“I hope not to have any harder years than this last one was,” Schulte said in an interview with KIRO Radio.
The crash killed his parents Dennis and Judy. His wife Karina and son Elias, who was just 10 days old at the time, were critically injured.
“At the beginning, we didn’t know if either one of them were going to make it,” said Schulte.
Both have undergone multiple surgeries, and likely will never be fully healthy again. Karina spent months in the hospital, the crash leaving her with a crushed pelvis and hip. She suffered a traumatic brain injury followed by a stroke. It affected her speech, but Schulte says her spirit remains strong.
“Her personality is for the most part all intact and she’s still funny, she’s very sociable, and people really enjoy being around her. I really enjoy being around her,” he said.
Baby Elias underwent multiple surgeries to repair a fractured skull and other injuries. But Schulte says the baby continues improving and growing, and seems to be a happy kid.
“We do try to celebrate what we do have and Elias makes it very easy to do that. He’s a very lovable small boy now,” he said. “For someone who’s gone through so much in his first year, it’s hard to really believe that he’s this happy,” said Schulte.
Schulte has become a tireless champion for drunk driving awareness and legislative reforms. He has testified before the legislature in Olympia and spoken out about the dangers of drunk driving.
Schulte’s family and others took part in memorial walk and rally Tuesday afternoon. The group marked the tragic event with a moment of silence at 4 p.m. at the crash site to remember the victims.
“It’s not fair that it had to happen to my family. My wife is not someone that deserved this. My parents didn’t deserve it,” said Schulte. “I hope that our story will remind people how bad it can be.”