« Another Day, Another Story about Hazardous New York City Hospitals | Main | In the News »

July 29, 2009



I write this letter out of hope; the hope that I can help save even one child's life. On November 28, 2007, my son, Dylan Fisher DePetro, died in a minivan fire in the town of Luxemburg, WI. He was under the care of his babysitter, Sue LaLuzerne. Sue decided to run some errands with her two children, and four that were under her care, including my son. On that tragic day, Sue made a decision that would forever change our lives. She ran into a hardware store to pick up some lights to help decorate for one of the children’s first birthdays. The six children were left in the van, with it running and the doors locked. According to witness testimony, Sue was in the store less than five minutes, when her daughter (5 at the time) ran into the store screaming that the van was on fire. Sue ran to the burning van (bystanders already on the scene with fire extinguishers) and was able to pull out three kids before being held back. The minivan (a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan) was already completely ablaze, the smoke caustic. In less than five minutes time, the van was completely destroyed. My 2 ½ year old son did not make it out of the van and 9 month old Amelia DeMeuse died on the way to the hospital. Sue’s son, Kyle, and 1 year old Kylie Beyer, were treated for severe burns. Sue’s daughter and another one year old were unharmed. I forgave Sue immediately, knowing that she made a mistake that no one imagined would have such tragic consequences. I knew the love Sue had for my son, and his love for her. I know that Dylan needed me to be full of love and forgiveness. I focused on what I could do to prevent this from happening again.
Gil Ross and Thadd LLaurado took on our case (lawyers from Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI). Thadd Llaurado began to build a case against Chrysler (enhanced injury). I recognized immediately that safety standards regarding the flammability of interior materials was outdated and insufficient. The start of the fire was never determined with certainty, but was most likely caused by Sue’s daughter playing with matches. I’m aware that Sue’s negligence was a cause of my son’s death, but because of the materials used in that minivan, my son had less than three minutes survival time from the start of the fire. My son was also in a child safety seat that was built into the minivan. I was appalled when I realized how flammable the vehicle was. Frustration arose when I realized how difficult it is to change safety standards regarding vehicles. Thadd Llaurado gave us hope, then Chrysler’s bankruptcy hit. The one area where I thought I could start was denying victim’s their rights and their day in court. I was quiet about the case since my son’s death, waiting for the lawsuit. I didn’t want any of my words to be used against me. Now, with little hope in the court system, I’m ready to speak out on behalf of my son.
This case was never about money for my family. The tears of frustration and pain flow as I type this. My son deserves to be remembered. I need to be his voice and a voice for other children. Our laws and our courts are supposed to protect us and keep us safe, shouldn’t that apply to vehicle safety? I want to let the world know that it is not okay to continue to produce vehicles that burn so quickly, especially vehicles that have safety seats built in to the car. Please help me be a voice for Dylan. Help me save lives. I am seeking resources to help me in my quest to build safer vehicles. I am also seeking resources that will help demand Chrysler take responsibility for its victims regardless of their bankruptcy and Fiat merge. Their financial irresponsibility should not wipe away their guilt.
Thank you for time and response in this matter.
Mellisa Irish


The comments to this entry are closed.



  • Google



Got a News Tip?

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

  • All opinions expressed on this blog are those of the authors only. Any disputes should be addressed to the authors or commentators. The Pop Tort invites comment to further the debate on issues addressed, but we reserve the right to deny or remove any post or comment.
Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin