Family, friends mark somber DUI crash anniversary

SEATTLE -- Tuesday marked a somber anniversary for a Seattle family that was devastated by a drunk driver.

It was one year ago on Tuesday when three generations of the Schulte family were run down by repeat drunk driver Mark Mullan. Family, friends and supporters marked the event with a walk, a moment of silence and a call for tougher drunk driving laws.

The foul weather mirrored the mood as everyone made their way to the scene of the tragedy that hit one year ago. It was a beautiful, sunny day that enticed the three generations of Schultes out for a walk last year. They were enjoying the weather and each other's company when Mullan mowed them down. Judy and Dennis Schulte were killed. Daughter-in-law Karina and baby Elias were severely injured.

At the end of the march, Dan Schulte teared up when remembering his parents.

"I'd like to thank my parents Judy and Dennis for raising me and Marilyn to be aware our actions can impact the lives of others," he said.

Last summer Schulte was there when Gov. Jay Inslee signed new DUI legislation. Under the new laws, drivers will go to jail on their second DUI. Upon release they'll have five business days to get an ignition interlock device hooked up to prevent them from driving drunk again.

Also at that bill signing was emergency room doctor Ernie Franz, who was also a victim of a repeat drunk driver. Dr. Franz was mowed down in 2004 while riding his bike. He suffered a spinal cord injury and has gone through rehab, but can't be a practicing physician again. It ended his career.

Now comes word that over the weekend the young driver who hit Franz, Todd Ruffner, was arrested again for DUI again.

"I guess my first thought is of sadness," Franz said.

This time the Kitsap County judge set bail at $2 million.

"To me it says that the judge has had enough and that the community has had enough," said Marsha Masters with Kitsap County MADD/

Franz said the best solution to the problem is to provide funding so police can enforce rules requiring drunk drivers to install interlock devices.

Several bills to toughen DUI laws got hearings in this last session, but nothing passed in the short time frame. Bill sponsors will try again in January. One that Dr. Franz would like to see is the monitoring of alcohol consumption with GPS bracelets on the repeat DUI offenders.