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What to do about a father who regularly drinks and drives

Flowers are placed at the intersection of NE 75th Street and 33rd Ave NE in Seattle, near the accident that killed Judy and Dennis Schulte and injuring their daughter-in-law Karina and grandson Elias who remain in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center. The driver accused of hitting them was intoxicated, according to police. (Linda Thomas photo)

He had a history of drunk driving and even bragged about getting out of DUIs. He also did drugs and was fired a couple of times. His marriage ended with divorce. He tried to end his life.

Court records tell us those things about the man who is accused of killing two grandparents and severely injuring a young mother and her infant. Police say he was drunk when he drove into them at an intersection in Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood.

The court documents don’t tell us about what, if anything, Mark Mullan’s family tried to do to stop him from getting behind the wheel drunk.

A Seattle woman shared her family’s struggle with a similar situation.

“There but for the grace of God goes my family with a father who could be the next careless killer,” she writes.

She doesn’t want me to use her name, but she is asking for advice:

Alcohol was always a part of my childhood. I didn’t know when I was younger why my father was loud and mean to my mom and sister. I know now it was because of the whiskey. I don’t remember a night when he wasn’t drunk.

I do remember how much mom argued with him about the alcohol. That made him angry too. Eventually I think she decided it was better to let him drink because at least then he’d pass out on the couch and leave us alone.
He didn’t always pass out.

Sometimes after my parents argued he’d grab the keys to an old, dented beige Cadillac and storm out.

As I got older they didn’t send me to my room while they fought. They didn’t seem to care. They yelled about his drinking, he said awful things to her and more and more arguments ended with him getting in his car and driving off.

I’d hear his car hit the curb in front of our house in the middle of the night as he came home even more belligerent than when he left.

My mother was an enabler. She made excuses for him at dinners with extended family. She made excuses for him when he started hitting her. She made excuses for him when he had to go to court to “clear something up.”

He was arrested several times for driving under the influence. I only learned that as an adult. It was the shameful secret nobody talked about in my family.

Now I think about how many times he could have killed someone when he got into that old Caddy. It’s clear now the dents were his fault. I feel at fault for not doing anything to stop him then. If I had been more aware I could have hidden the car keys.

I do know better now about his alcoholic behavior. He’s not allowed in my house and he’s not allowed to see his grandchildren until he becomes clean and sober.

I’ve managed to protect my family from him, yet I feel an incredible guilt because I realize I need to protect the community from him.

He’s 63 and he still drinks. He still drives. I am sincerely asking, what can I do to keep my father from drinking and driving?

I’ve Googled this question and have found some resources online but a lot of it involves hiding keys, calling a cab and suggestions that won’t work for me because I don’t live in the same city as he does and I can’t keep track of him. I will take advice from anyone at this point. Could you ask your readers to help me?

I am stressed and in a panic thinking about this today. If he injures or kills someone I will not be able to live with the guilt of wondering what I could have done to stop him.

My heart breaks for the Schulte family. There but for the grace of God goes my family with father who could be the next careless killer.

I’m trying to put myself in her shoes, or in the situation of the being in Mark Mullen’s family. What would I do? My parents never drank and the people in my life today seldom drink. I don’t know what to tell her.

Do you have constructive, specific advice for the woman who’s worried that her father might become a “careless killer?”


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