Only on 6: Father fighting chance of parole for DWI driver in deadly Northway crash
December 1st, 2017 will mark five years since the deadly crash on the Adirondack Northway that claimed the lives of two Shenendehowa High School seniors.
The man convicted of causing the crash plead guilty to 58 counts, including aggravated vehicular homicide and drunk driving, but in just a matter of months he'll have a chance to get out of prison.
CBS 6’s Anne McCloy sat down with a dad who's working to make sure that doesn't happen.
“We said to him as we would any other day, ‘be safe’,” Mike Stewart said.
But that December day, 17-year-old Christopher Stewart wasn't safe. He was on the Northway at the same time as a drunk driver.
“He side-clipped the back end of Christopher's car. The wheels caught into the dirt and grass and started tumbling multiple times,” Stewart said.
Christopher and his best friend 17-year-old Deanna Rivers were killed in the crash.
“Christopher was crushed immediately against the two trees, Deanna was thrown from the vehicle,” Stewart said.
His friend Matt Hardy and girlfriend Bailey Wind were seriously injured.
“Matt was half in and half out of the vehicle, Bailey was under the glove compartment,” Stewart said.
But today, almost five years since the crash, Mike Stewart is fighting harder than ever, because soon the man who took his son away, will get the chance to walk free, after just five years behind bars.
“Five years is kind of crazy to think when you’re talking about two young lives that were lost that potentially he could be walking in that short time period,” Stewart said.
As hard as it is, Mike agrees to tell the painful story of that day, to crowds of DWI offenders. He explains how the driver, the now 27-year-old Dennis Drue, drank gin and tonics at a Hibachi restaurant before getting onto the Northway at the same time as the car full of teens, who were just about to go off to college.
Chris would never learn he got in to both of the colleges he was interested in.
“He received his acceptance letter in the mail a week after the crash,” Stewart said.
Mike shows the DWI offenders the last moment with his son, their last text message, and he asks each offender to take Christopher's challenge. To put a photo of Chris on their keychain, to remind them of the consequence of drunk driving.
“That’s all that I’m asking for is that you make a change,” Stewart said.
Come June, Mike and his family will meet with the parole board to fight Dennis Drue's possibility of parole, which would allow him to get out of prison in December of 2018.
“We'll do our homework and will be ready when that day comes,” Stewart said.
The state police investigation into Dennis Drue revealed he had more than 20 other traffic violations leading up to the deadly crash.
If he's denied parole, the longest he'll be in prison is 15 years.