Seattle, WA- Authorities say that the man who crashed into a group of pedestrians, killing two of them, in the Wedgwood area of Seattle had a history of prior DUI arrests and was driving on a suspended license.
On Monday, Dennis and Judy Schulte went from a walk with their daughter-in-law Karina and 10 day-old grandson Elias in the suburban Seattle neighborhood. The Shultes moved to Seattle from Indiana to be close to their new grandchild, the Seattle Times reported.
While on their walk the family approached the intersection of 33rd Avenue and 75th Street and began to cross the road. As they entered the intersection, and large Chevy pickup truck violently slammed into them.
When medics arrived they found Dennis and Judy lying in the road; the impact of the crash killed them instantly. The newborn infant wasn’t breathing, but emergency workers were able to revive the child. Both the infant and his mother Karina sustained life-threatening injuries and were taken to a local hospital where they remained in critical condition.
The driver of the Chevy pickup was Mark Mullan, 50, and a search into his past showed a man with substance abuse problems and a string of DUI arrests.
In court documents, Mullan said he didn’t see the four pedestrians because the sun was in his eyes. But police say that Mullan had a strong smell of alcohol on his breathe, bloodshot eyes and blew a .22 on a breathalyzer. Police also discovered that Mullan was driving on a suspended license, according to the Seattle Times.
Mullan denied being drunk, telling officers he only had one drink earlier that day, however their ensuing investigation revealed the history of a man who had a serious problem with drugs and alcohol that not only unraveled his marriage in 2009, but also landed him in legal trouble for drunk driving before, at least five times since 1990, the Seattle Times states.
Mullan’s first three arrests occurred in 1990, 1991 and then again in 1994. It appears as though he was able to stay out trouble with the law until October of last year.
Even though Mullan kept his nose clean for well over two decades he still struggled with substance abuse causing his wife to leave him in 2003, but she changed her mind and took him back until 2009 when she finally filed for divorce.
Mullan’s legal problems began again last year when he was arrested for drunken driving in October after an officer caught him driving 84 mph in a 60 mph zone. At that time his blood alcohol level was .15, but he had yet to be convicted
Then as recently as January, Mullan was arrested again for intoxicated driving, but was able plead for first offender treatment, because prosecutors and courts are prohibited from bringing up convictions dating further than 7 years. He spent 15 days in jail and was given permission to drive as long as he installed an ignition interlock device into his vehicle; Mullan never did and continued to drive on a suspended license.
Mullan now faces two charges of vehicular manslaughter and vehicular assault.
While this heart-wrenching accident that shocked the community, it is not an unusual occurrence; close to one-third of all traffic fatalities nationwide are caused by intoxicated drivers. This alarming statistic has compelled the NTSB to suggest that all first-time DUI offenders be required to have ignition interlock devices in their vehicles, but whether this would be an effective in reducing drunk driving is unclear, especially considering Mullan’s case.
Because of Mullan’s negligence, a family has been torn apart, leaving one man to mourn his parents while he watches his wife and child struggle for theirs.