On the same day her husband returned to work after the birth of their son, Karina Ulriksen-Schulte ventured out for a walk Monday afternoon for the first time since giving birth by cesarean section, according to King County prosecutors.
Carrying her 10-day-old son Elias in a sling, Ulriksen-Schulte and her in-laws, Judy and Dennis Schulte, slowly walked 500 feet north from her house along 33rd Avenue Northeast in Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood.
As the group was crossing Northeast 75th Street in an unmarked crosswalk, Ulriksen-Schulte, who was walking at a quicker pace, spotted an approaching pickup. She doubled back to help her in-laws across the street.
The family was about 12 feet from the curb when the driver of the pickup, identified by police as Mark W. Mullan, slammed into them without slowing down, according to prosecutors who Thursday charged the 50-year-old unemployed electrician and repeat drunken driver with two counts of vehicular homicide, two counts of vehicular assault and reckless driving.
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Judy Schulte, 68, was thrown 70 feet, the charging papers say. Her 66-year-old husband, Dennis, was also gravely injured.
Both died at the scene.
The couple were retired educators from Kokomo, Ind., who had recently purchased a home in Seattle so they could be close to their first grandchild, friends say.
The charging documents provide new details of the accident and also outline the extensive injuries of the survivors, both of whom remain in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center.
Elias, born March 15, was thrown to the pavement and wasn’t breathing when police and medics found him lying next to his unconscious mother, the papers say. He suffered skull fractures and a brain injury and underwent emergency surgery for injuries to his liver and intestines, charging papers say.
Ulriksen-Schulte suffered a crushed pelvis and later developed blood clots that caused a stroke and led to brain damage, the papers say.
Both mother and son are in comas, the charging papers say.
Thursday was Ulriksen-Schulte’s 34th birthday, according to an online blog dedicated to keeping her friends and family informed of her and her son’s medical conditions.
The charging documents say Mullan — who was driving although his license had been suspended — smelled of alcohol, failed field sobriety tests and had a preliminary breath-alcohol level of 0.22 percent, nearly three times the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Mullan told officers at the scene that he had had one drink earlier and hadn’t seen the pedestrians because the sun was in his eyes, charges allege.
He told police he didn’t apply his brakes until he “felt the bump” as he struck the pedestrians.
Police say he was driving 30 to 40 mph in a zone with a posted 30 mph speed limit.
“Mr. Mullan is a grave danger to the community who cannot or will not refrain from driving impaired,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Amy Freedheim wrote, noting Mullan ignored recent orders from two different judges to have an alcohol-sensing ignition-interlock device installed on his 2012 black Chevrolet Silverado after drunken-driving arrests in October and December.
Freedheim referenced Mullan’s long history of alcohol and drug abuse, which includes three prior DUI arrests in the 1990s and a suicide attempt in 2003.
“However, his contempt and indifference to the public by repeatedly driving impaired and failing to equip his vehicle with an (interlock device) cannot be blamed on any disease except selfishness,” Freedheim wrote.
On Tuesday, a King County District Court judge ordered Mullan held in jail in lieu of $2.5 million bail. Mullan is to be arraigned on the charges April 11.
Should he post bail before the case is adjudicated, prosecutors have asked that he be fitted with a transdermal alcohol bracelet within 12 hours of his release from jail.
They have also requested that Mullan be ordered not to drive, drink alcohol, or have any contact with Daniel Schulte, Ulriksen-Schulte’s husband, or his family.
If convicted as charged, Mullan faces a sentence range of 15 to 19½ years in prison, according to Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.
During the 2012 legislative session, Satterberg and other county prosecutors pushed for tougher sentences for vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. Under the old sentencing range, Mullan would have faced 9 to 11½ years in prison, according to Donohoe.
Now, someone convicted of vehicular homicide faces the same sentence as a person convicted of first-degree manslaughter.
“In the blink of an eye, a family was destroyed by the decision we allege that this defendant made to drink and drive,” Satterberg said in a statement Thursday.
“It is a senseless loss and a tragic reminder that our society has a long way to go to eliminate the danger posed by impaired drivers. What too often follows the decision to drink and drive are funerals, hospitals and jail cells.”
Family, neighbors attend vigil
More than 100 people — neighbors, family members, co-workers and first-responders — attended a candlelight prayer vigil for the Schulte family Thursday evening at Sand Point Community United Methodist Church.
Pastor Cathlynn Law told those in attendance that Karina and her husband, Dan, had started attending services in December as time neared for the baby to arrive.
And when Dan Schulte’s parents, Judy and Dennis Schulte moved to Seattle, they too began attending.
Ulriksen-Schulte, who worked as a nurse at Children’s hospital always wore a smile on her face, co-workers said.
One co-worker said Ulriksen-Schulte is “quite a presence there. She has spent so many years taking care of people in their worst possible moments, and now she’s on the other side with someone taking care of her … ”
Dennis Schulte’s brother, Paul Schulte, spoke of the visit he had with her as she lay in her hospital bed. He said he told her she didn’t look a day older and he rubbed one of her feet when she ever so slightly stretched it outward.