DUI driver who hit family, killing 2, headed to prison

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SEATTLE —

A man who admitted he was driving drunk when he hit four people crossing the street and shattered a Seattle family has learned his fate.

Mark Mullan was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide for killing Judy and Dennis Schulte, and two counts of vehicular assault for severely injuring their daughter-in-law, Karina, and 10-day-old grandson, Elias.

Dan Schulte could barely talk about the damage done by Mullan to his family. His wife, Karina, is currently in a wheelchair because the crash fractured her skull and pelvis. She suffered a stroke the next day, while in intensive care, and is relearning basic skills. Karina was an award-winning pediatric nurse before the crash.

Schulte said his son, Elias, has permanent brain damage and vision problems. His parents, Dennis and Judy Schulte, were killed.

"My parents were murdered, run over by this man as he was drunk behind the wheel of a large truck," Schulte said.

As another family member described the initial injuries to Elias, Karina cried loudly.

Prosecutors said the family was walking in Seattle's Wedgwood neighborhood in March when Mullan drove into them.

Mullan had initially pleaded not guilty but changed his plea to guilty on Oct. 3 under a plea deal.

In Mullan's deal, he agreed to accept the high end of the new sentencing guidelines for repeat drunken drivers. In this case, that sentencing range is 14 to 18 years.

On Friday as he faced a judge for sentencing, Mullan did not speak, though his attorney said he had planned to apologize.

His twin brother, Mike, spoke for him, apologizing to the Schultes as Mark looked straight ahead.

"We want to extend our sympathy and our prayers to the Schulte family," Mike Mullan said. "We have no words to express our sorrow for the damage he's committed."

The judge even tried to hold back emotion, calling it an "almost unbearably tragic and horrific act."

Mullan was sentenced to 18 years, four months. The judge added the extra months because Mullan, a repeat DUI offender, had refused to install an ignition interlock device that would have required him to blow into it and prove he was sober before he could start his vehicle. It was a step that she said could have prevented the tragedy.

Mullan had been convicted of drunken driving before and was on probation at the time of the crash after pleading guilty to another DUI case in January.

Mullan didn't get life in prison because sentencing guidelines set by the state legislature doesn't allow it. And if not for a 2012 state law that made vehicular homicide sentences tougher, he would have spent less time in prison.

After the devastating accident involving the Schultes, lawmakers acted quickly to strengthen drunken driving sentencing laws for repeat offenders.

The new law requires second-time drunken drivers be jailed, then required to purchase an ignition interlock device within five days of the arrest.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg credits the Schulte family's courage for helping get that law passed.

Previous stories:

Man pleads guilty in Wedgwood DUI that killed 2 (10/3/13)

DUI suspect pleads not guilty in fatal Wedgwood crash (4/11/13)

Wedgwood DUI crash victims honored at neighborhood walk (4/1/13)

Mother, baby who survived Wedgwood crash clinging to life  (3/27/13)

Man in double-fatality DUI crash has history of drunken driving (3/25/13)

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