GALVESTON, Texas - A teenager who was charged in connection with a firefighter's death has been cleared, but he says something false that police told some media outlets has caused multiple problems.
It was night time Feb. 26, 2011, and Fred Mueller, who was driving west along the 8300 block of Seawall Boulevard began to make a U-turn that changed his life in an instant.
"The officer came to me and looked me in the eyes and said I was being charged with intoxication manslaughter," Mueller said.
Mueller had been broadsided by a motorcycle driven by Jamaica Beach firefighter Chris Norregaard.
Mueller said when emergency medical technicians discovered they were treating "one of their own" as Norregaard died, an already tense scene became more intense.
"As soon as they found out he was a firefighter, the officer changed," he said. "They started making me do the tests like walking the line and doing all that."
Galveston police told some media, including KPRC Local 2 , that Mueller failed his blood-alcohol test. Based on police comments, Local 2 and other media reported he had failed.
That was not the case.
The test actually showed Mueller had a blood-alcohol content of .01.
Norregaard's result was .153, along with four other drugs which showed he was the impaired driver in the accident.
Still, it took an agonizing several more months before charges were dropped.
Mueller's father, Randy Seehausen, said while the charges remained in place against his son, the reaction from the internet made his son's life a living hell.
"People were literally destroying our son's reputation and the Internet, if you went on it, it was horrible what was being said about him."
Galveston Police Chief Henry Porretto said charges were filed based on the information available at the time and that while the system was not fast, it worked.
"We tested and once they found out there wasn't probable cause or enough evidence, then I believe that the case was dismissed," he said.
When asked why the charges against Muller were allowed to stay in place so long even when the evidence seemed to indicate they weren't warranted, the Galveston District Attorney's office released this statement: "By law, we can't disclose any information regarding the case because the matter was expunged."
Mueller said only therapy and prayer helped him through.
"There's nothing I can do to reverse the past," he said. "I just have to realize and accept that it wasn't my fault. It was a pure accident, and accidents happen."
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