Alcohol + Driving = Tragedy

I really don’t understand why folks continue to drink and drive after so many years of focused efforts by schools, police, government, and social service agencies to send the message of how disturbingly dangerous it is.  I thought when the laws relating to driving under the influence were stiffened that the potential penalties would substantially curb the behavior.   I thought that when we started to see a national trend of prosecutors pursuing homicide charges against drunk drivers who were the cause of others’ deaths it signaled yet another penalty escalation that would deter folks from driving while drunk.  I guess I thought wrong.

Four people died on a North Dakota highway on Friday evening – a family of three and a young man.  The family of three – Allison (36), Aaron (34), and Brielle (18 months) Deutscher were hit by Wyatt Klein (28) who was driving the wrong way on the highway.  It has been reported that authorities believe alcohol was a factor in Klein’s wrong way driving.

The Deutscher family (from The Forum)

A lot of folks are grieving now…grieving the choices of Wyatt and the unfortunate circumstances that put the Deutscher family in his path.  What a horrific loss this is and what a startling reminder of how dangerous drinking and driving can be.

Yet, so many still do it.  So many think they can manage drinking and driving and set out on the road without an appreciation of the potential costs of that one decision.  Putting an impaired person behind the wheel of a vehicle begs for human injury – the driver or other unfortunate souls who are in the driver’s path.

Drinking and driving is a challenging issue year-round, but it is worse in the summer.  During the summer when weather and road conditions are good (and drinking at parties, festivals, or the lakes is an almost daily event), drinkers who drive tend to believe that they can more easily manage the drive.  They think they can manage the risk; and, as such, the roads and highways become much more dangerous places.

Take a moment and think about the losses of Wyatt Klein and the Deutschers – these deaths did not need to occur.  These occurred because of impaired driving.

Do you drink and drive on occasion?  Try something for me please.

1. Print off the Deutscher family’s photo and keep it in your vehicle. 

2. Every single time you drink and get behind the wheel you look at that family before you put your key in the ignition.

3.  You take a minute and think – if you drive while in an impaired state you could kill a family just like the Deutschers.

4. Even if you start to rationalize that it is highly improbable that anyone will be hurt because you are only going a short distance and you think you are fine to drive – know that you are not fine – you are impaired.

5. Reach into your sensible mind and recognize that impaired drivers at the best have slowed reaction times, and at worst become a time bomb for other drivers on the road.

6. Realize that you don’t want to hurt or kill yourself or others – put away those keys and call a cab, sleep it off, call a friend, etc.

I am sure that Wyatt Klein didn’t set out Friday to kill himself and a family of three, but it happened.  If you drink and drive the same thing could happen to you.   Be smart – if you drink, don’t drive.  Not only is it against the law, it evidences a reckless disregard for human life (your own and others).

The loss of four folks on a North Dakota highway because of drinking and driving is an inexcusable tragedy.  Allowing this type of behavior to continue in society is unacceptable – don’t do it and don’t let others do it.

Look at that photo again – that could be your family or friends – this could be your nightmare to live.  Incorporate their grief in your psyche and let it be forever tied to your view of the costs of impaired driving.

My condolences to all the families for the crushing loss they have experienced…may you find some peace in this trying time.

Day one thousand and ninety-eight of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

23 Responses

  1. MacKenzie Mack

    Aaron, Allison, and little Brielle will truly be missed by many in our family. Thank you so much for the message. I hope this will help people see what drinking and driving does. Thanks again.

    1. mary brixey

      I am so thankful i was brought up to never even take a drink of alcohol i had a father who was an alcoholic one of my brothers and i were taken away for this reason i was a family of 10 siblings.we werew both adopted out and i was adopted by a family who didnt go for the drinking also i am a christian and do not beleive in husband and i have tried to instill in our children if you never start you never have to quit something.our family is very saddened by this could be some of our family members someday too.we have 9 grandchildren,and i do not want to ever have to experience this loss!our many thoughts and prayers go out to this family.mary brixey and family.from prairie city s.d.we have also had friends killed by drunk drivers a former pastor about 16 yrs ago we loved dearly!!!!!!!!!

  2. Dawn

    I truly do not understand why everybody thinks that Wyatt was drinking, the tox report will not be returned for a least 6 weeks. I have worked for a towing company and people fail to understand that there is/has been alcohol in the vehicles that have been smashed in the accident.
    The Officer was not to release any information about the accident until all the reports were back.

    There was a tragic accident that took 4 lives, yet the media has chosen to ignore the fact that Wyatt also has a family that is grieving the loss of their son, father, brother, etc.

    Understand I am not taking away from their family, I feel a great pain for them. Please remember that Wyatt also has a family that loved him and will miss him too.

    1. Mickie

      So now how do you feel about what you said…. he WAS intoxicated and weather he was or not doesn’t really matter because the family is still DEAD at the hands of another!

      Not to ignore your grief, I’m sure your family has grief of your loss, but his was a choice… their’s was not. He didn’t HAVE to drive while intoxicated.

      The other part is that people are not mad at Wyatt (for the most part) they are mad at his disregard for others …. his choice to drive…. and his inability to make a good choice.

      My sincere sympathy to the Deutscher family.

    2. Ernest

      Well now that the reports are in and Wyatt was 3X over the legal limit I guess we can assume he was drinking.

  3. Heather

    Wyatt Klein was driving east in the westbound lanes of the interstate. The closest exit to the scene of the accident is 1.5 miles west. So when a member of law enforcement ascertains that alcohol was a factor, is one supposed to merely disregard his professional opinion? Mr. Klein was driving the wrong direction at 80 miles an hour, for a minimum of 1.5 miles, and struck the Deutscher’s car head-on. Absolutely no skid marks were present. I know this because I witnessed the accident that fateful Friday night. My family was mere seconds behind the collision. While toxicology reports have yet to be performed, I feel that to agree with the opinion of the aforementioned officer is not improper. While I empathize with Mr. Klein’s family, I also know that this accident was the direct result of his actions (whether induced by alcohol or not). My sincerest condolences go out to the friends and family of the Deutschers.

  4. Laurie Deutscher Tuite

    This is a very difficult time for our family. I watch as my brother and sister-in-law try to grasp the fact that they will never see their son and his family ever again. My family has to deal with driving past mile marker 225 every time we head home for a visit. My nephew was a truly, truly good man who was kind to a fault. We were fortunate to see him just a couple weeks before at a small family reunion. My granddaughter fell on some thistle and he patiently pulled sticker after sticker from her little hand. I will always have this memory but there will be no more. This was a tragedy that didn’thave to happen. Please learn from this and think before you drink and thrive instead of drive…

  5. Lori Sattler

    So very saddened about the loss of this innocent family!!! Senseless act of violence!!!
    I send the deepest sympathy to the Deutscher Family. My prayer is that God carries you all through this time!!!!

  6. codie

    I dropped a bottle of wine in my car and it shattered one day. Car smelt like alcohol for a while. I obviously drink and drive. Awesome job judging Wyatt. He had a past, who doesnt? Unlike alot of people he was trying to fix his life. I will never have my cousin back. His son has to grow up without a dad. I feel terrible about the loss of everyone. Everyone has a family that loves them. Wyatt was an outstanding man. He was there for anyone that needed him, with a smile on his face. And he was also deaf. Pretty sure that wasnt in the news.

  7. alishia

    You are all very sensless and rude, you are not the only ones that lost somebody that night! ACCIDENTS happend this is a sad sad thing, he would never hurt anybody. The media did an awesome job of going straight to wyatts PAST, yes he has a past, he was doing very well to turn himself around but of course nobody up there sees that, you all belive what you read in that paper.Our family knows the truth of that accident and Unfortunately we cant not say the details we know as the REST of the results are not back yet. But we will stand behind that WONDERFUL man and not let anybody talk him down anymore!!!!!!!!! We love you WYATT you are and will be greatly missed by all the wonderful people you touched during your life.

    1. Jon Deutscher

      Well you can be proud now, the blood alcohol tests are in ………. he was over three time the legal limit (o.25). He was self centered, and in his last act on this earth, he killed four other innocent people. You can mourn the loss of your friend, but don’t eulogize that he was being wrongly persecuted.

  8. I rarely comment back on the comment section these days as I don’t typically have the time; however, I believe it is important to add a footnote here.

    Three families lost family members in this tragic accident. I understand that and I know the rest of you do as well. The question is why? Why was Wyatt driving the wrong way on the highway that evening? The assumption is that Wyatt was drinking based on the responding officer’s comments. This may or may not not be true; however, it would help explain why he was driving the wrong way. If Wyatt was drinking and driving then he made a poor choice that evening – a tragic choice, but it is the same kind of choice folks make every single day.

    I am sure all of you out there know folks who have driven while impaired – friends, family members, maybe you did it yourself once or twice. It happens…folks tend to ignore the impairment in the moment. It is a situation that has stymied law enforcement for years and it still happens every single day all across America.

    The point of this blog was to emphasize the tragedy that can occur when an impaired person decides to get behind the wheel. The point was not to vilify Wyatt. It is just another layer of sadness to hear that Wyatt had been making strides toward turning his life around prior to this incident. I can imagine myself in the role of both families. I can understand how difficult it is for Wyatt’s family to deal with the things that are being said about him – a thin slicing of who he was portrayed primarily in the negative. I can also understand the immense grief the kin of the Deutscher family feel and their fervent wish that Wyatt had not been driving the wrong way that fated Friday.

    I hope that what everyone will take away from this blog entry regardless of what we hear back from Wyatt’s toxicology report is how dangerous drinking and driving can be. I reiterate what I said in the blog: “My condolences to all the families for the crushing loss they have experienced…may you find some peace in this trying time.”

    Ms. C

  9. I grew up with Alli. We found out that we were pregnant at the same time and had this running bet on who would be first to bring our baby into the world. I am heartbroken.

    I also provide prevention services in South Dakota. When something like this happens, that part of me wakes up to step forward to try to do something. Whatever comes out of the investigation regarding the BAC of the driver doesn’t matter, we know that he had struggled in the past. There seems that there were multiple chances for prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery supports. The system failed everyone in this situation.

    It’s time for change in ND. An alcohol related crash is the only 100% preventable crash. I am working with some people in the federal government to help state officials look at the system to see where those changes need to be made. We are looking at getting an email tree set up in case we need to garner public/community support quickly. If you are interested in being on the tree, please send your email address to

  10. Dawn

    It amazes me as to how all this information is being released seeing as there has been no report to the family about the tox report.

    1. Jon Deutscher

      What would be the purpose of withholding this information? There will never be a criminal trial for the driver, he is beyond the justice of the living. The toxicology report does not need to be released to the families before being issued to the public.
      With the BAC test completed, do you still believe it possible that he was not impaired?
      Is it not better to use this terrible incident as a deterrent so that maybe someone else might think twice about taking their 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th drink before climbing into a vehicle and wiping out the next family?
      Trivializing this situation by insisting that the investigation is less valid because the investigator is not following proper protocol is disrespectful to the innocent individuals who lost their lives.

  11. codie

    bottom line though, this isnt going to change anything. Next week this will be old news and someone else is going to get in there car while drunk. Everybody knows not to do it. Your taught that at a young age. But people still do it. You always think your sober enough to drive. and having a record doesn’t make you a bad person. Point fingers all you want but if I saw a driver coming at me umm im pretty sure id swerve, especially if I was sober.

    1. Jon Deutscher

      So I guess Aaron is at fault for driving in the proper lane of Interstate. Was it his responsibility to out guess a drunk, or was it Wyatt’s responsibility to follow traffic laws? I’m sure Aaron tried everything in his power to evade the vehicle coming at him. The insinuation that the fault of this accident lies with him because he failed to “swerve” is completely out of line.

      I’ve said enough, and in the end, none of this will bring back Aaron and his family. The thought that the outcome of this situation is that nothing is learned is even more of a tragedy than the accident itself. Aaron deserves better than this.

  12. well I guess I can comment on this one. Today was a hot day. irragators went red, that means shut them down now if they have not dont it themselves. Working outside in the heat with the heat indexes as they were today, well that means beer time. I just went to check, I got 5 text messages to “come to the bar” my plan was to go home grab a check blank, and go to the bar, when I got in the house I had to check the newspaper, seen, the tox report, and felt so nice in cool in the house. So I opted to have a few beers at home, all alone, I did not have to drive. sucks for the bar as I understand my co workers and boss man had a great time up there, as they were texting me to come to the bar. Bar prolly would have appreciated I pay my bill there also. I decided to water the garden, and sit in the cool house.

    What Wyatt had to grow up with, I will never know. I have never walked in his shoes. What people dont realize that everyone goes thru their own issues, and how they deal with them, is how they deal with them. Weather they be right or wrong. It cost many people their lives. Not only the ones that are gone now, there will be lingering problems with the survivors. Some may turn to alcohol.
    Its a dominos effect. My nephew was killed in a car accident. From what I have heard, one friend killed himself and one other started drinking. When my nephew died in his accident, it also took the lives of atleast 2 others.

    I am not defending no one. but what I want everyone to realize is that dont judge til you walked in someone shoes.

  13. jarred

    I have been reading all the posts and reply’s on here. It is easy to see where all the hurt and anger comes from for all the family’s involved. I don’t believe that the family of Mr.Klein were saying that any of them condoned drinking and driving at all. I believe they feel a great sorrow for the Deutscher family. I believe that the Deutscher family has lost a big part of their family and that because of the choices that Mr.Klein made that part of their family will never come back. I feel that the anger from the Duetscher family is justified.
    I also feel that the anger from Mr.Kleins family is justified also, they lost a family member also, they also are a family in morning. All the familys involved are lost and wanting answers, answers that may never come. One can not assume anything of what each driver was thinking. I am sure Mr.Deutscher was thinking ” oh my god what is this driver doing” Nobody knows what Mr.Klein was thinking either. there are many reports of skid marks etc, but unless you are one the people that have passed away no such answers to all the questions will ever be answered. Pointing of fingers is one way of dealing with pain, does that mean its the right way? No. the official report will not bring back the 5 lives that have been lost. The on going remarks from family to family on here are becoming outrages, maybe each family member or friend need to step back and think from the other family’s point of view.. Or maybe even just stop the bickering back and forth and take away from this great loss, that lives can be lost in the blink of an eye, that loved ones need to be told that you do love them, that children no matter 8 months 8 years 18 years of age,etc. that the result of drinking and driving is never good. Please be considerate of each family’s feelings.

    My god help you all thru this most difficult time

  14. Ana Spencer

    To the Deutscher Family, and the Klein Families,
    I accidently came across this and dont know why.I just wanted to tell you all how sorry I am that both families are mourning loved ones. Although alot of people would like to blame and hate Mr. W.Klein…this is not going to bring back the beloved Deutscher Family! Mr W, Klein is in the hands of our Lord along with the Deutscher Family….please stop hateing….turn all that energy into something positive for your loved ones. Do it in their honor…….No one won and no one will win this…..Trust God….they are all safe with him!
    A friend from Chicago!

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