Convicted drunken driver Gordon House talks about the DWI crash…
GALLUP, N.M. (KRQE) - Police said a horrific fatal crash where a suspected drunken driver slammed into two people in wheelchairs happened right in front of a group of Gallup churchgoers and feet away from the house of an infamous drunken driver.
The victims were a recently engaged couple. The woman, Tina Mulliner, survived and is recovering, but her fiancé, Ron Skolte, died at the scene.
The accident happened feet away from the house of their very close friend Gordon House, who was there at the time of the accident.
House just got out of prison four months ago after serving 11 years for his role in 1992 fatal DWI crash.
"It's just shocking and all because of alcohol," friend Zeke Gonzales said.
The newly engaged couple, both wheelchair bound, were headed home from church when out of nowhere a Pontiac Grand Am smashed into them.
"That's when Ron flew and Tina, everything just happened so fast," Close friend Celine Vigil said.
Skolte was killed instantly; his fiancée Mulliner was taken to an Albuquerque hospital.
The church parking lot that they just left was still crowded with members of the congregation.
"He was so happy that he was getting married and we were happy for him too," Gonzales said.
Police said the car, driven by Gabriel Livingston, 24, hit the couple from behind.
“He was taking this curve at a high rate of speed in the opposite direction of traffic. Struck the curb and pushed the wheelchair pedestrians out into the roadway. One of the wheelchairs was under the Grand Am, the wheelchairs were in several pieces," Gallup Police Lt. Ricky White said.
The forceful impact took chunks out of the roadway.
“You can see the other footplate, both footplates.” White said.
Within seconds, friends rushed to the couple's side.
"I ran to Ron and I knew he was dead already,” Vigil said.
Then Vigil said she ran to Tina and held her hand until the ambulance arrived on the scene.
"She was just saying she couldn't move she couldn't, that's how I found her because she was asking for help," Vigil said.
Among those who live in the neighborhood and witnessed the tragedy is a man who ironically was behind the wheel during one of the state's most infamous DWI disasters.
On Christmas Eve 1992, Gordon House was drunk and driving the wrong way on Interstate 40 in Albuquerque. He slammed into another car, killing a mother and her three daughters.
Wednesday night's Gallup accident happened right in front House's apartment.
Victim Ron Skolte was a former roommate and a man with no local family, who House adopted through his native culture as a brother.
“We'd see them on the sidewalks many times, riding together, both of them sharing their soda pops. That evening, when I walked out that door, their wheelchairs were just scattered everywhere. I saw my bother there—oh gosh, God,” House said.
House said losing his own close friend to a DWI crash means he will work harder to help the state seek solutions.
“This chemical, it has no feelings, it has no compassion, it has no love,” House said. "Law enforcement needs to be there. Legislators need to be there, but also people that have served time—they need to be there.”
Friends of the victim are now dealing with the loss anyway they can, and remembering their friend.
"I thought I would make him a memorial, I made the cross for him,” Gonzales said.
Livingston is charged with vehicular homicide, aggravated drunk driving causing great bodily injury and having an open container.
Police said Livingston and the passengers in his car tried to leave the scene. An off duty state police officer and an off duty McKinley Sheriff's deputy were in the crowd and stopped them.
Witnesses said churchgoers also held onto Livingston's car to keep him from leaving.