Family Affected by OWI Hopes for More Awareness and Harsher Penalties

"It was really hard that day to tell your son that his best friend was gone."

Tina and Dave Albers's son Cole was best friends with Dylan Thorne.

"Two days before Dylan passed, he was here at my salon and he was laying back in the salon chair and he was telling me, 'you know Dave loves me more than he loves you,' said Tina, "and I'm like, 'no he doesn't Dylan!' W,ell he goes, 'does he get you free donuts?' And I was like, 'well no,' and he's like, 'well, there you go, he gets me free donuts all the time.'"

Cole and Thorne played football together at Iola-Scandinavia High School and two months after graduation, Dylan even took his law enforcement placement test, but on his way to his summer job, the 18-year-old was hit and killed by a drunk driver.

"Every day I look at my son and I think if people knew how it would impact them, it's like his best friend is gone and there's nothing I can do to give that back to him," Tina said.

The community came together as Heather Schmidt of New London, now charged with her first OWI offense, changed their lives forever.

"One time. That's all it took. It's all it took for him," she said.

It took 20 months for Schmidt to be charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle.

"That's the thing that bothers me the most because we've seen other accidents where they're right in jail right away no matter what and she hasn't spent a day in jail," said Dave Albers.

The Albers said harsher punishments for OWI offenses need to happen sooner, before another person becomes an unfortunate example.

"They don't have any justice. They can't have their son back and I guess the reason we're pushing it so much is awareness," said Tina Albers.

The Albers along with Thornes' family have their second annual Dylan John Thorne Memorial Ride on Sunday, July 20th. Sign in will begin at 8:30 a.m. and run through 10 a.m. at Silver Lake Lanes in Scandinavia. The motor cycle or vehicle ride will begin at 10:30 a.m. sharp. There will be food, music, and raffles including a Harley Davidson FXDB Dyna Street Bob. The cost is $20 per person, $25 per couple and $5 for each additional rider. The price includes meals after the ride. If you would like to donate to the Dylan John Thorne Memorial Fund, you can find out more information at

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