A Wrong Turn

Once Galveston emergency personnel discovered the dead motorcyclist was "one of us," a Bellaire teenager's nightmare revved into overdrive.

A Wrong Turn

Fred Mueller steered his truck through the open-window welcome of Gulf air atop the I-45 Causeway, descending into his first Galveston Isle-style Mardi Gras adventure. This 17-year-old Bellaire student had installed a stereo system in the old F-150 pickup that now pulsed to the mellow reggae sounds of SOJA. He reached the rendezvous point for a dozen or so other Bellaire teens at the Breakers condo unit, owned by the grandparents of one of them. Ahead was the inaugural night of festivities and a friend's birthday.

After a few minutes of greetings, Mueller and two classmates left to score some food. They climbed into his truck and he eased onto Seawall Boulevard. That route west took them through smudges of fog rather than fast-food joints. Mueller edged into the center turn lane, preparing to head back the other way.

Suddenly, the exterior of his driver's side door seemed to explode. The impact jointed the pickup, jamming the door. The teens slid out the passenger's side and hurried around the F-150.

Mueller and his parents, Paola and Randy Seehausen, are fighting to restore his good name after he was ­vindicated of the felony.
Chris Curry
Mueller and his parents, Paola and Randy Seehausen, are fighting to restore his good name after he was ­vindicated of the felony.
At Bellaire HS, Mueller had rolled up good grades and respectable cross-country running times before the crash.
Courtesy of the Seehausen family
At Bellaire HS, Mueller had rolled up good grades and respectable cross-country running times before the crash.

The truck had taken a one-ton hit of metal and chrome, as well as human bone, flesh and fluid. The kids saw the carcass of what had been a Harley-Davidson Ultra Glide motorcycle. Its rider sprawled on his back on the ground, feet still dangling at the base of the pickup. Dark liquid quickly masked the motorcyclist's face; it poured from his mouth and a deep gash in his head, forming a path that oozed over the pavement toward the bay.

Mueller's 911 call began at 6:26 p.m. on this Saturday, February 26, 2011. "Hey dude, we need an ambulance right now! Right away, sir," the youthful voice said. "A motorcycle just hit my truck. And the guy, I think he's dead, sir. I think the guy's out..." He urgently tried to answer the operator's question about his location on Seawall, or whether he could see any identifying hotels. "Aw, shit. I'm trying to find one. Uh, give me a second..."

The motorcyclist "just came out of nowhere," as Mueller was making a U-turn, he explained. The reduced visibility and the unfamiliar setting left him clueless about the specific location. "Excuse me, I'll put you on the phone with a grownup." A woman's voice followed, along with the confirmation that they were in the 8300 block. "He's dead," the woman said. "It looks like he's dead..."

Galveston Fire Department paramedics began frantic efforts to revive the biker. Some witnesses said the action slowed in the absence of any response from the motionless man. As they handled the body, more clothing was exposed. Mueller heard a shout from them that triggered a new flurry of attention:

"Oh my God — he's one of us!"

Physicians at John Sealy Hospital's emergency room formally concluded that Christopher Norregaard, 49, was dead. He had been more than just a biker. For 25 years, the local construction contractor carried Badge 733 of the Jamaica Beach Volunteer Fire Department. His father retired after a career as an area firefighter — one son was also a volunteer firefighter; another was a GFD officer. The extended family further validated their Born-on-the- Island status.

Norregaard was "one of us." Mueller wasn't. This Bellaire teen, with his Justin Bieber swept-brown hair and boyish looks, began sensing that in the eyes of these police and medical technicians, he might as well have been from a foreign land.

His first Mardi Gras adventure rapidly morphed into the grim, stark cadence of a Miranda warning.

Frederick Gustav Mueller would spend the next months trying to persuade Galveston authorities that, no, he wasn't really a drunken kid who had killed one of their own. His charge: intoxication manslaughter, a felony that could send him to prison for the next 20 years of his life.
_____________________

Some news reports said Norregaard had joined other Jamaica Beach firefighters and police for warm-up Mardi Gras festivities at a party in the Academy Sports parking lot on Seawall. They stated that he rode for home to escape the increasing traffic, while some of his peers boarded fire trucks for a Mardi Gras parade. Troy Beasley, a fire captain, told the Galveston Daily News how hard it was for those crews to "hold it together" once their fire radio crackled with the message that their colleague was dead. Locked into the parade line, they had 40 more blocks to endure of throng-lined streets of revelers, blaring music and the controlled mayhem called Mardi Gras.

Parade route barricades spawned the expected traffic backups. In one of those was a car containing Randy Seehausen and his wife Paola. They were trying to get to John Sealy Hospital and their son, Fred Mueller. Paola remembers the unsettling sights through the windshield. Emergency sirens whooped to the crowds' delight. Fire trucks crawled by with animated riders clutching plastic drink cups and tossing trinkets to cheering audiences.

The Seehausens had been in their Bellaire home preparing to leave for another event — the Chili Cook-off at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Mueller, who had just hung up from the 911 call, telephoned his father. Seehausen heard him start with, "Something terrible has just happened," before he briefed him on the accident. Then a Galveston police officer came on the line with reassurances.

1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
80 comments
Fuq Sanderson
Fuq Sanderson

How come every time there's some funny business in GPD, Chris Sanderson is involved? He's been a fucking punk since he first showed up on the police force down there. Sawed-off little bastard. Too bad he wasn't on that bike.

H2opolo2m
H2opolo2m

I live close to the Mueller boy and he continues to have underage drinking parties while dumping his liquor bottles on private property. The article is painting a picture of an angel...y'all are misinformed.

Dean
Dean

Everyone assumes that Fred made an "illegal" u turn. The fact is he was starting to move into the center turn lane to make a LEGAL U TURN. There is nothing on Seawall Blvd. which states this is an illegal turn. It is however, ILLEGAL to pass in the center turn lane, which is exactly what the motorcycle driver was doing. Also, the motorcycle driver was speeding, driving too close to other vehicles (he almost hit the two independent witnesses' car, failing to keep a proper lookout, not paying proper attention, driving w/out his lights on, weaving in and out of traffic and obviously, severely impaired. Fred was not at fault in this accident in any way. This is the opinion of 2 objective, independent witnesses. The incredible part of this story is that the police discounted everything these witnesses had to say to them.They told the police all that they witnessed yet NONE of it made it into the police report.

believer in fred
believer in fred

I used to go to high school with Fred and although he had an ego what high school boy doesnt? We didnt talk much but he was really nice and i know hw doesnt deserve all this. so big deal he was about to make an illegal u turn the article said there were no sign saying so how the heck was he suppose to know it was an illegal turn. I am 100% on Fred's side becuase of the real facts stated that the firefighter wasn't wearing a helmet, didnt have his headlight on in the fog! and the fact that he had drugs and alcohol in him when Fred had no drugs and 0.001 in him. i mean seriously I can get that 0.001 from my mouth wash that contains alcohol so that's messed up. Everyone is on the firefighter's side because of the fact that he was a volunteer firefighter but it was his own fault. im not saying he deserved to die jesus no but it's not fair that poor Fred gets all the blame for this. no one is really thinking about how he feels in all this. people everywhere judging him, ignorant kids in school calling him a murder wtf no!! no one really thinks but this is alot to go through, what if it leads him to commit suicide since everyone is already labeling him as a murder when its NOT true. im pretty sure he is dealing with alot and ignorant people judging him for something that wasnt his fault doesnt help. its a shame how police can judge automatically on the spot because they think he's some irresponsable teen and the other one was a firefighter when he was the one with drugs in him. kinda makes me ashamed to live in the so called land of opportunites freedom of this, freedom of that when our justice system is so screwed up. i just hope Fred knows he has people who ARE on his side like me and wish him the best luck in life cuz i know this must not be easy for him and he is very brave to keep his head held high. I believe in you Fred hope this will all soon be a thing of the past.

old hs friend
old hs friend

I used to be friends with Fred. I haven't seen him in a year or so but I know that he wouldn't want anyone talking trash about either side of this case. I am sure he just wants it to be over. He is a nice guy who made a mistake but so did the other man. It was a tragic accident and no one can change that. Just let it be and pray for the hardships that both families have had to endure.

Estelle711
Estelle711

I basically make about $500-$1,000 a month online. It's enough to comfortably replace my old jobs income, especially considering I only work about 10-13 hours a week from home ,read more on this web site... makecash16.comONLY

Estelle711
Estelle711

I basically make about $500-$1,000 a month online. It's enough to comfortably replace my old jobs income, especially considering I only work about 10-13 hours a week from home ,read more on this web site... makecash16.comONLY

Civil Rights Advocate
Civil Rights Advocate

This completely pisses me off!!!! Trying to turn it around that the kid was in the wrong when the deceased actually caused the accident and had been drinking and taking PRESCRIPTION drugs- oxycontin...got what he deserved!!!

Galveston Passerby
Galveston Passerby

Facts remain the same.

No matter what Norregaard's condition may or may not have been, no illegal u-turn by Mueller, no wreck.

On a side note, all law enforcement officers probably start investigations with a presumption of possible intoxication on high profile events and weekend nights, which is distressingly accurate.

Any one who thinks different levels of justice can't be purchased by paying more for the defense attorneys need to track some of the big cases in Texas, going back to T Cullen Davis.

El Machete
El Machete

As I have said may times; "A liberal is someone who has never been mugged and a conservative is someone who has never been arrested". Imagine all the poor black folk who are sitting in jail because they did not have the money or resources to pay for a good defense. By the way, the GPD and Galveston DA officers who investigated this case orginally should be ashamed of themselves.

Bhskid2012
Bhskid2012

I know Fred-not personally, but by simply listening to him whenever he starts talking in my class. This is the guy who bragged about getting in a fight with a cop after a party while drunk, and nearly failed out of the easiest AP Spanish class I know of. A 3.6 gpa is sad for an AP student, by the way.That being said, I believe that in this case, he was the one getting slugged by the law. Disregarding the fact that ANY alcohol is illegal for those under 18, he did not deserve the treatment he received. I just hope that he gets a good lesson about the kinds of risks he should take.

losindios68
losindios68

Great story HP on how the "Just Us" system works in Texas! How many people who don't have the resources to uncover the truth sit in our prisons?

John Harris
John Harris

Thanks Houston Press and George Flynn. This is a typical story that plays out all over the U.S. weekly, if not daily. Power corrupts but then you add on personal emotions (death of a friend, fellow worker, etc.) then the decision making goes out the window. Please follow up with another story describing the repercussions of those individuals that tried to frame an innocent person, thereby ruining his entire life. jdh16110@aol.com

Deana
Deana

I wasn't there and I don't know what happened other than what has been published and what the lab reports show. What I do know for sure is both of these individuals (the decendant and the young man) appear fine and upstanding on paper. No one is perfect. Judge not, least ye be judged. Let this young man go on with his life. There is no evidence presented that he did anything wrong, other than go to Galveston. I hope you get through this young man and I wish the family of the decedant peace. I pray for all involved.

Donna
Donna

I can only say that once again the liberal media and daddy's money have once again won. The media leads the public around by the nose hairs because they know people react out of sensationalism and emotion instead of getting the story from both sides. YES people there is TWO sides to every story. It is very easy to blame someone else because of an accident. This was a tragic accident. What the story doesn't tell you is that Chris was 6 foot 2 and 285 pounds and that he like 90% of Chronic Back sufferers drives around on Hydrococodone because they are so desensitized to it. I know lots of people who do it, is it right no, but that doesn't mean they are drug addicts. I bet if you checked with your own friends and family at least one of them would tell you they do to. Chris was not drunk by any means or he would not have been driving. Shame on all of you for jumping to conclusions which is exactly what you are doing about Chris and the emergency personnel and what was done to this young man. It is NOT right on EITHER side to draw conclusions from half truths and innuendos. And NO I don't live in Galveston nor do I work for any emergency group. I just know that people on both sides should have compassion as this was a tragic accident that will affect both families for the rest of their lives. The writer of this article as well as anyone who condoned this article must be very callous and heartless to drag all the graphic details of the end of a life out for his family and friends to read and they should be ASHAMED! I dare say you would be outraged if someone brought out gory details about someone you loved or admired. I will indeed be writing a letter to the editor or an article if they will give me space regarding this article however, it is unlikely they will publish it because they don't want to hear anything but one side.

Sajhouston2003
Sajhouston2003

As a seven year former volunteer firefighter, it's a sad day when we lose one of our own. That being said, the day turns much worse when a corrupt "good 'ole boy" legal system attempts to flatten an innocent young man's life.

This is going to sound extremely harsh, but, this was Darwinism at work. Driving impaired is one of the most selfish and stupid acts that a person can do, and as a firefighter, the deceased should have known better. I hope he's at peace now, because I doubt the young man will ever be for the remainder of his time here on this rock we call earth.

C3
C3

This article speaks to the media's strongest weapon: the destruction of person's character. The bathos of a "prestine" individual to the aura of a murdering felon is one that is hard to be redeemed from. This preception that we live in a society that second chance are a given, the feedback durning the comeback could and does make many relapse. What to do with so much negativity aimed at making you seem evil without any reason but revenge? The "Klan-ish" behavior of the Galvestion emergency responders and investigators is such a black mark humanity and their community. All in all, I say welcome to the world of an accused.

Galveston Passerby
Galveston Passerby

Article does a great job trying to rehabilitate the reputation of an inexperienced driver who managed to kill someone with his incompetence.

I saw Fred Mueller's truck with the driver's side door smashed in, and Chris Norregaard's motorcycle with a damaged front wheel on the night of the accident. The only way that damage happened was if Mueller turned directly into the oncoming motorcycle's path when making an illegal U-turn, unless the laws of physics work differently if you are from Bellaire.

If Mueller had followed simple traffic laws and common sense, this accident wouldn't have happened.

All the high priced lawyers and investigators can't make Fred Mueller's responsiblity for this death go away.

Jj
Jj

This kind of stuff happens all the time. Thank goodness this young man had a family who had the means to pay good lawyers to fight the case and uncover the truth. Thank goodness for his two key witnesses as well. HP should contact the media outlets here in Houston so they can clear his name in the publics opinion. The uneducated people who still think he is guilty are just ignorant.I have friends who are cops who go out and get wasted and then try to arrest people while they are drunk. Sickening.

Wrenchbender412i
Wrenchbender412i

You guys are stuck arguing about who was at fault in the collision, when the larger fact is that the police chose to ruin this kid's life by fabricating a case against him. I had the same thing happen to me several years ago when the cops decided to make a case against me for "evading arrest" during a traffic stop.

I was fortunate that the prosecutor in my case placed his professional integrity above his need to win cases and put people in jail. After hearing the testimony of the cops at the trial, he walked up to the judge and told him he was dropping the case because he knew the cops were lying their asses off.

The fact is, cops lie in court. Prosecutors know it, judges know it, and cops know it. My defense attorney told me after my trial to watch my ass, because the only thing cops hate more than losing a case is losing a case because they got caught lying under oath.

As a a parting piece of advice, he said to me, "Stay out of trouble, because the only people more dishonest than the mob are the cops."

Nickie
Nickie

I'm sorry ya'll feel that he should get away with it but the insurance company sums it up... since Muellers insurance company is paying the family he was guilty!!!!!!!!!!!!! They wouldn't pay if it was not his fault!!!! GUILTY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nickie
Nickie

You and everybody else keeps beating around the bush. The pills,nor his drinking took his life that night. A bad choice by the kid is what caused this to happen. Just because Chris happened to be impared that night doesn't mean he should get away with killing a man!

nickie
nickie

You should be ashamed of yourself, to say such an ugly thinng bout the dead, no one deserves this. He's not blaming the kid so let him rest in peace. He also has loved ones that might read this and its not right to say such a good man deserves death. You sould think of them before you speak.

narlins
narlins

You can't nic-pic the conditions. Everything that happened was because everything happened. The biggest factor is the use of alcohol and drugs. The illegal u-turn is a ticket, the speeding and illegal lane changes were a ticket, and the death was and is a disastrous mix of all that happened to all involved. I hope the departments involved and the DA's office learn from this death. I am really sorry for both families. Neither deserved it.

aggie5976
aggie5976

If Norregaard hadn't been driving drunk and high or making an illegal pass, he wouldn't be dead. Are you one of his buddies that let him drive drunk?

Txdoula
Txdoula

Donna, despite this man's tolerances....what he did was VERY I L L E G A L. Did you miss the part where someone was quoted as saying they didn't know how he was breathing with the amount of drugs and alcohol in his system?? You sound like a classic enabler.

Nettie
Nettie

OK, Donna, let me get this straight. If this report contained accurate information, you are saying that the motorcycle driver with a blood alcohol level of 0.153 and 0.188, (0.008 is the legal limit), and four different schedule 2 drugs in his system, was acting responsibly by driving?

Anonymous
Anonymous

You just said he drove around on hydrocodone. Essentially, you decided that since he A) hurt alot and b) didn't notice his impairment, even though he obviously knew how many pills he popped, it didn't matter. That would be insanely wrong. So yeah, we do have both sides to the story now.

As for the article's compassion to the dead man, the writer seemed to go out of his way to point out what a fine man the deceased had been in his lifetime. That just emphasizes the tragedy of his decision to drive drunk (your insistence that he would never drive drunk is negated by the actual test). You may cover your ears and say "lalalalalalala" to yourself over and over again, but it would honestly be bad for everyone involved, and it will hurt you deeply over the long run. You are in my thoughts.

jim
jim

passerby, you have had a week to think about what you typed. care to explain yourself?

Randy Chapman
Randy Chapman

Passerby, I can't understand why people like you cannot figure this out; the MOTORCYCLE passed the TRUCK illegally on the left side. At the same time the TRUCK was making an illegal u-turn, also to the left. The motorcycle struck the truck in the door, on the left side, coming from behind the truck. The blame is shared. One driver was impaired, the other was not. Toxicoligy test proved that FACT, not opinion.

Yizguy
Yizguy

So it is ok to speed down the seawall,weaving around trafiic, at almost thrice the legal alcohol limit with four narcotic drugs in your system? Yeah, I guess it was the young man's fault.... jerk

yahoo-3UAE267QLMBNFONR2PVEHAXURY
yahoo-3UAE267QLMBNFONR2PVEHAXURY

your comments would be right on.... except that's not what witnesses testified to... sorry... you would have been right there with the "good ole boy" system that tried to crusify this kid.

Randy Chapman
Randy Chapman

Agreed. Police officers should be charged with perjury for lying, but that never seems to happen. I really don't know why, other than most times it's their word against the accused. If you have a good case, you shouldn't have to lie to make it stick. But then again, like every profession, there are police officers who are incompetant and shouldn't be officers. Sanderson is a texbook case for that argument.

Letitiawhipple
Letitiawhipple

Wrong...insurance companies settle cases all the time to avoid having to pay expensive lawyers in court.....kid NOT guilty....

TXDoula
TXDoula

Nickie...how do you feel about your friend's blood alcohol level? How about the 4 drugs in his system? Do you think he bears any responsibiliyt? Regarding the settlement, that was absolutely not an admission of responsibility by either the insurance company or the family. That was a business decision, pure and simple. It would cost the insurance company less to pay the family this hush money, that to go through the expense of a trial, simple as that. I'm surprised the family had the intestinal fortitude to try to collect money from this young man, even after they knew the toxicology results on the firefighter...but then again, maybe I shouldn't be so surprised.

Randy Chapman
Randy Chapman

Nickie and Josh are now berating the GDN forums with their insane reasoning.

Bjm
Bjm

You are so wrong. On so many levels. Drugs/alcohol/driving recklessly - that is where the blame lies. You and other friends - if you were with him that night - you are blaming yourselves for letting him ride and your misplaced anger needs to be checked.

Randy Chapman
Randy Chapman

Sorry, but insurance companies do not decide guilt. Their only concern is the bottom line, and whether or not the case would be cheaper to pay or defend.

Randy Chapman
Randy Chapman

No beating around the bush. They both did something illegal. Your friend was wreckless and impaired on drugs and alcohol, and the boy made an illegal u-turn. The major fault lies with your friend and his friends for letting him drive. Could you have prevented him driving that day?

TXDoula
TXDoula

did you miss the part where the boy was in the left lane, and this drunk and drugged man, driving recklessly,, passed him ILLEGALLY on the left??? I'm sure there was a small amount of contributatory neglegance assigned to the boy over the u-turn, but that firefighter signed his own death warrent when he got on a bike doped up and drunk, without a helmet no less. No sir, this boy is the one to primarily blame, no matter how hard the GPD officers tried to make it that way.

guest
guest

Well when you drive drunk and on oxycontin and you create an accident that results in your death, and they are looking for blame, it's your fault. Now, since he was a good man maybe he deserved to make it home and live to drive drunk again? Until this very thing happens? It's great to see things as an accident but the police want to find blame, so let's place it where it belongs.

Donna
Donna

I won't reply to anyone anonymous - no guts to post your name no response.

Nickie
Nickie

You should know for sure weather the family seeked money before you go bad talking a dead mans family. for your info the family didn't seek payment they just recieved it. Yes, Chris does bear some responsablity but he cant pay anymore for it.

Txdoula
Txdoula

oops, meant to type, this boy is NOT the one to primarily blame

Randy Chapman
Randy Chapman

Yep, the firefighter signed his own death warrant.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Like I said, you're in my thoughts Donna. I hope you get help with your anger.

Txdoula
Txdoula

Nickie, you're right, I don't know if the family asked for the money or if the check appeared from nowhere. But if the family cashed the check, they must have thought they were due something, otherwise they would have torn it up.

There were two victems in this story, your friend and a young man. Unfortunately, your friend paid for his lack of judgement with his life, but his decision will haunt a young man for the rest of his life. The whole situation is a tragedy. I'd think a lot higher of the family if they would offer some comfort to this boy, acknowlege that Chris made bad decisions and had a lot of the responsibility....freeing this boy to go live the rest of his life in peace. Something tells me with the kind of man Chris was willing to rush into burning buildings to save people, he would not want this boy to suffer any more than he already has.

 
Houston Concert Tickets
Loading...