Family fundraises for MADD to honor son, promote awareness of others

An Elk River family is helping raise thousands of dollars to help prevent others from facing the same tragedy they live with every day.

An impaired driver killed their son and brother 15 years ago. Ever since, they have turned their grief into action.

The numbers are staggering with more than 11,000 people killed every year in drunk driving crashes, according to the advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

The family of Chase Korte is now fighting side-by-side with MADD to save lives. 

Korte was a University of Minnesota theater graduate and an aspiring actor who landed the role of a young motorist in a familiar Treasure Island Casino commercial years ago.

His dad told FOX 9’s Paul Blume that Chase could have been a star, and should have turned 40 years old on Sept. 6.

"It seems like yesterday and yet it also seems like an eternity," explained Pat Korte. "You know, everybody's kid is sweet and wonderful to them. But I'm just going to say, as a father, I couldn't have been more proud of him." 

Chase Korte was killed in February 2007 in California. He was there working on an independent film focused on world peace.

The then 24-year-old had no chance when an impaired driver hit him like a missile at speeds topping 160 miles per hour on the freeway.

His dad reports authorities needed dental records to identify Chase after the fiery crash.

"When chase was killed so unexpectedly. We didn't know what to do. We didn't know where to turn. Nobody could really help us because we were just lost in our world," said the elder Korte.

The family eventually connected with MADD, joining the crusade to end drunk driving. The Kortes have used their tragedy to raise thousands of dollars in Chase’s name for that fight in the years since.

This year, the 15th anniversary of the crash that ripped out their hearts has extra meaning as the organization’s Walk Like MADD fundraiser approaches on Saturday, Sept. 17 at Clifton French Regional Park in Plymouth. 

"It just crushes me," added Pat Korte. "Because I just know he would have contributed so much and it's just so unfair."

If all comes together over the next several days, the Korte’s fundraising efforts could approach $40,000.

They picked up an additional donation on Wednesday when Treasure Island commercial pledged $300 in Chase’s name.

MADD’s efforts to end impaired driving include high-visibility law enforcement operations as well as ignition interlocks or breathalyzers for repeat offenders. The group also champions other smart technology for vehicles.