Kyle Hutchinson was home from the University of Washington for his sister’s wedding in 2004 when he died in a drunk driving accident near Spokane. He was going to be a groomsman in the wedding and was two weeks away from a study-abroad in Rome.
But then he went to a party thrown by a friend’s family and got into a car with Dawn Vrentas, then Wiltzius, who lost control of the car and drove off the road into a swamp.
Kyle and his friend, Walter Corman, drowned. He was just 20-years-old.
His sister, Kayla, said that her family looked to Dawn for answers, but they had to dig to get to the truth.
“We were just repeatedly lied to,” Kayla told Dori. “Different documents were coming out with what actually happened, so it really took almost a year to piece together what happened and the way we did that was through contacting the first responders to the scene, the first witnesses, etc.”
And it wasn’t her first offense; Dawn had been arrested for a previous DUI. And when she was let out on bail after the 2004 crash she was still drinking and partying.
Ten years later, Dawn has been arrested for driving drunk yet again.
“I couldn’t believe that someone who was responsible for taking two lives couldn’t stop that behavior,” said Kayla. “I just thought that must have been the thing that would turn her life around and would make her realize that if you’re drinking, call a cab. If you’re drinking, call a friend. If you’re drinking, stay the night.”
Dawn’s employers at the Post-Prison Education Program have stood up to support her in court, saying she’s turned her life around and has been working towards a master’s degree in social work.
Ari Kohn, president of the organization, said he knew about Dawn’s past when he hired her. When approached after her arrest he said he “didn’t give a damn” about her history.
“She’s smarter than hell,” he said Monday. “The prisoners love working with her.”
But Kayla says her recent good behavior can’t excuse what Dawn has done, and what she might do in the future. If she’s able to drive drunk, Kayla said, Dawn must not think much of the tragedy she helped cause ten years ago.
Dawn’s attorney also cited her work in the community and her supportive family when she argued for lowering Dawn’s bail from $1 million to $300,000. She said that Dawn was distraught from a phone call from her husband, who was reportedly cheating on her.
“A supportive family doesn’t let this happen three times. If she needed support that night she shouldn’t have been drinking at the Capitol Hill Block Party,” said Kayla. “You have to look at the pattern of reckless behavior that’s putting our society at risk.”
Kayla said it’s a perfect opportunity for prosecutors to show the community that they won’t let killers stay on the road.
“The law is the law. When you’ve killed two people, when you reenter into society, every move you make needs to reflect what you’ve done. You don’t get another chance,” said Kayla.
KIRO Radio news staff contributed to this report.