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Parents hope crash will wake up drivers
By Kirk Mitchell
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 03/21/2007 01:11:21 AM MDT
Bill Mutschler and Jeanne Schlaht, Seth Mutschler's parents, say they aren't angry at the driver whose car crashed head-on into their son's. Instead, they're focusing on his recovery. (Post / Hyoung Chang)
The parents of Seth Mutschler, who was critically injured last week in a car crash that took his friend's life, say they aren't angry at the 16-year-old girl suspected of causing the collision while driving under the influence of alcohol.
But at a news conference Tuesday, Bill Mutschler and Jeanne Schlaht said they hope other kids will consider the devastation caused by the March 13 Lakewood crash, and that it will prevent them from climbing into a car drunk.
"Some day, this will hopefully stop," said Bill Mutschler. "It's crazy."
Police say the 16-year-old Green Mountain High School student drove a sport utility vehicle head-on into a car driven by Seth Mutschler, 20, killing his passenger, Samara Stricklen, 17.
Seth Mutschler has been in and out of consciousness for a week with broken ribs, a crushed ankle, a broken femur and extensive internal injuries, his father said.
He said his son's condition has improved from critical to serious, and he has been taken off a ventilator.
"It's going to be a long, long road," Bill Mutschler said. "But he will recover."
Meantime, prosecutors have postponed filing charges against the 16-year-old girl, said Pam Russell, spokeswoman for the Jefferson County district attorney. Those charges were expected Tuesday but have now been delayed until next week.
On Monday, authorities said test results indicated the teen driver had alcohol in her system at the time of the crash. Also, the girl had three passengers in her SUV in apparent violation of a state law restricting who can be in a car with a new license holder.
Schlaht said she doesn't have to worry about whether the girl who caused the accident will be punished. Her son's well-being demands her full attention, she said.
"I can't let anger get into my head," she said. "I pray for her mother."
Bill Mutschler said he doesn't feel animosity, either.
"I feel sorry for her," he said. "I don't think she has been guided and told what she needed to do to avoid something like this."
His son doesn't recall the accident and told his father that Stricklen would remember, he said. He didn't know that his friend, who was going with him to the movies, had died.
At one point, Seth Mutschler asked his father when he would return to Colorado, thinking he had gone with his father to Seattle to attend his sister's wedding, Bill Mutschler said.
Seth Mutschler, who repairs broken windshields, has been thinking about joining the military, his father said.
"He is so amazing. He is so strong," his mother said. "He is one of the funniest persons I know."