June 7, 2018. For the first time in 20 years a Milwaukee Police Officer died in the line of duty when Chuckie Irvine was killed in a horrific crash while chasing a reckless driving suspect.
For the first time Irvine’s partner, Matthew Schulze, is discussing what happened.
Schulze and Irvine were monitoring traffic on that sun splashed June afternoon. They were in the neighborhood of Silver Spring and Fond Du Lac on Milwaukee’s north side when they spotted a driver speeding in the bike lane.
“We activated our sirens and pursued,” Schulze told me recently. “Pedestrians were in danger.”
As speeds increased, something went terribly wrong. “I was knocked out and next thing I know I was hanging upside down. I called for Chuckie and got no answer. Nothing.”
Irvine had been thrown from the car.
Schulze was loaded into an ambulance and taken away. He had broken ribs, seriously damaged shoulders, which would require surgery, a concussion, and lots of serious cuts and bruises. But the worst was yet to come.
“While I’m in the recovery room, a couple of detectives came and told me that Chuckie died on the scene. I broke down crying. It didn’t feel real. It still feels like a dream.”
The days and weeks were debilitating. “I was ruminating on the crash constantly. I was thinking ‘that should have been me’ “.
Schulze told me he considered killing himself. He lived in fear. He was shaken and felt like there was no one he was comfortable talking to.
“I had my service weapon with me at the park. I was planning on killing myself. I called my wife to apologize. And that’s when I was forced to get help.” He told me the help was not super effective because he couldn’t open up to someone who doesn’t live the first responder life.”
Schulze is now involved with Sal’s House, a recovery house for first responders suffering from PTSD and addiction. Schulze says it will be a critical component for police officers and fire fighters to get the help they need.
“With Sal’s House, first responders will be there with their brothers and sisters, people that understand what they go through. Had Sal’s been around for me, I would have been much more likely to open up and seek the help I needed.”
Sal’s House in the Milwaukee area opened November 1. For more information please visit salsservices.org.