ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A Minnesota family whose 5-month-old son was killed by a drunk driver wants tougher state laws for repeat offenders. Southwest Minnesota State University basketball coach Brad Bigler and his wife, Heather, lost their son, Drake, in a car crash in July of 2012.
The Biglers say they understand how Minnesota law might apply to a first-time DWI offender. But they say second- and third-time offenders, like the driver who killed their son, should get harsher penalties.
It’s been almost two years since 5-month-old Drake Bigler was killed by a drunk driver. What the Biglers were shocked to learn was that driver had two previous DWI convictions.
“He probably didn’t have enough fear to get back in the car,” Brad said. “He probably was not afraid of the consequences.”
Dana Schoen tested at four times the legal alcohol limit the night he killed Drake and critically injured Brad. He’s currently serving four years in prison.
The Biglers, who posted a YouTube video of their family, now speaks in public on the dangers of drunk driving.
Brad Bigler said Minnesota’s penalties are too weak.
“On that second and that third offense, we were a little surprised that there weren’t more consequences,” he said.
Minnesota’s maximum penalty for a third drunk driving conviction in 10 years is up to 10 years in prison. Now, some lawmakers say it should be 15 years.
“When is it enough? When does the prison time fit the crime?” said Rep. Chris Swedzinski. “And if you ask someone who has been affected in this way, it’s never. It’s not going to be enough.”
The Biglers now have four children, including Drake, and a new baby. And a new cause.
“If it means using Drake’s legacy to help others later on, I think that’s what we want to do,” Brad said.
The new law would apply to repeat offenders who caused injury to a person, or property damage.
Under the circumstances, Brad said his family is doing reasonably well — but he said their grief is just below the surface.
They’ve never spoken to the man who killed their son, but they saw him on television express remorse.