Family Settles for $13 Million in Fatal Drunk-Driving Case
Mark Mullan was drunk – his blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit – and illegally behind the wheel of his pickup truck when he caused a fatal crash. Mullan hit the Schulte family as they were crossing a Seattle road. Dennis and Judy Schulte were killed instantly, and their daughter-in-law, Karina Ulriksen-Schulte, and her ten-day-old son, Elias, were critically injured, both suffering brain and other physical injuries. Elias’ vision was severely impacted by the crash and he has since had to undergo surgery to repair the membrane between his skull and brain.
Court records indicate that Mullan had been arrested five times for DUIs prior to the fatal crash. At the time of the incident, he was operating on a suspended license and was already on probation for another conviction. He should not have been operating a vehicle without an interlock device.
Mullan was immediately arrested. In court, tears in his eyes, he eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular assault, each with DUI enhancements attached that add an extra two years to his sentence. He also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of ignition interlock device charge. Mullan was ultimately sentenced to eighteen years in prison.
“We’re relieved he’s decided to accept responsibility for his actions,” Karina’s husband and Judy and Dennis’ son, Dan Schulte, said at Mullan’s plea hearing.
His sister, Marilyn added, “I hope is that while he is in jail, he gets the treatment that he needs so that when he does get out this won’t happen again.”
Both siblings have been pushing the Washington state legislator for additional restrictions on drunk driving since the accident. They couldn’t understand why an individual with a lengthy drunk-driving record could have gotten behind an unmonitored vehicle, and their concerns were heard. The state has since agreed to crack down and enact stricter laws.
The family also recently agreed to settle with the city of Seattle for $13 million, even though no amount would fill the void Dan lives with every day. The city said the settlement will allow it and the family “to avoid the uncertainty of trial.”
A memorial walk and rally in memory of Judy and Dennis Schulte was held on the one-year anniversary of the fatal crash. Citizens came from all over to listen to Dan speak of the day his life changed forever. He said he received a call at work telling him there had been a terrible accident. When he arrived at the hospital, he found out his parents, who were visiting from Indiana, had already been killed, and his wife and son were in grave condition. His world collapsed around him, and it would be a while before he had more positive news.
Eventually, Karina returned home, and Dan reported she was “relearning to walk and talk and do many daily tasks” although she does not, he wrote, walk or talk like her previous self. Of his son’s current condition, Dan said, “Elias is acting mostly like a normal baby. There are some questions about his vision, it seems to be very limited at this point.”