Updated: Friday, 21 Dec 2012, 3:35 PM MST
Published : Tuesday, 28 Jul 2009, 12:09 AM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - With an apparent DWI tragedy hitting close to home Gordon House, freed after a lengthy prison sentence in his own case, has become a controversial messenger by offering an anti-drunk driving message for school children.
Last week a suspected drunken driver slammed into Ron Skolte and his fiancée Tina Muliner as they were leaving a Gallup church. Both used wheelchairs to get around, and both were close friends of House.
"He had indicated he was a homeless child, and I told him in the native sense that we can adopt him," House said of Skolte. "I'll adopt him as my brother."
In March House finished serving 11 years in prison for the Christmas Eve 1992 collision that killed Melanie Cravens and her three daughters. Her husband survived serious injuries, and a jury found House was drunk and driving the wrong way on Interstate 40 heading into Albuquerque.
In an interview last week House told KRQE News 13 this second devastating accident has renewed his mission to educate the public about drunken driving.
"We have substance-abuse problems in the mid schools," House said. "And if there's too much of law enforcement being there, then we're missing some people that have a little bit of insight on the other side to work together.
"I think there is a greater chance of saving more lives."
Paul Cravens, who survived the collision with House, now lives in Colorado. After watching News 13's interview with House he said he thinks House could make a powerful impact.
"He was in prison and had 11 years to think about all the ways and the things he did wrong and things that could be done better," Cravens said. "I think we ought to listen to people who have been there, and they really can help us.
"I am real encouraged."
Cravens said it may make an impact to students to have someone like House telling his story.
"To tell them, 'Man, this is what you need to do to change your life and to think about what you are doing,' and tell it to the young people, I would be real encouraged to see that happen."
However Al Foster, a youth specialist with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said the system isn't ready to have offenders in classrooms yet.
"I think victims' families would resist that," Foster said. "I am not so sure that that is the right thing to do right now."
Foster and House agreed early education is key in keeping the next generation away from alcohol.
Cravens said besides reaching students he thinks law enforcement needs more funding to combat the problem
News 13 also contacted Nadine Milford, Melanie Cravens' mother and a longtime leader of the anti-DWI fight.
She also supported the idea of having people who cause DWI crashes reaching out to school kids but only if the offender is truly remorseful and the victims' families approve.