By Travis Mounts
A drunk-driving accident claimed the life of a man formerly from the Viola area.
Clayton Dean Patterson-Schauf died early on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 25, near the intersection of U.S. Highway 254 and Hunter Road, by Towanda, in the northeastern corner of Sedgwick County. Patterson-Schauf, 19, was living in Caldwell.
According to the report from the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, Patterson-Schauf was eastbound on the highway when he allegedly was struck by Jose Rios-Cruz, Jr., who authorities said was driving a GMC Sierra pickup the wrong direction in the eastbound lanes of Highway 254. Patterson-Schauf was driving a Chrysler PT Cruiser. He was declared dead at the scene.
Rios-Cruz, 39, was arrested and booked on charges of driving under the influence and involuntary manslaughter. He was held on a $500,000 bond, but as of Monday of this week Rios-Cruz was no longer being held in the Sedgwick County Jail.
Patterson-Schauf attended Clearwater schools starting in kindergarten, and graduated from Clearwater High School in 2020. He was employed at Charles Engineering, and previously worked at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. He went to work at El Dorado shortly after graduating from CHS, but health problems associated with his type 1 diabetes led to him changing jobs a couple of months ago.
Patterson-Schauf’s grandmother, Jeanie Patterson of Viola, emailed TSnews to share her thoughts about the impact of her grandson’s life on others. She called him a beautiful, caring young adult who had only begun to change the world with love.
“In his 19 years on this earth, he left a lasting impression on everyone he met. He went to work as a correctional officer at the El Dorado prison when he graduated from Clearwater, until a couple of months ago. He was diagnosed with diabetes as a child and the prison work was too strenuous with his disease, so he regrettably had to move on to another job, Charles Engineering in Clearwater. But as always, he did not let diabetes take over his life. With a smile on his face, he moved onto a new chapter. This was my Clay, never let it get him down,” Patterson wrote.
She put out a plea so that no other family has to deal with the pain and grief that her family is experiencing right now.
“We hear so much negativity about our youth every day but believe me I know there are so many good, caring kids out there and my grandson was one of them. My heart is broken and may never heal,” she said. “I only pray that his senseless death will make people wake up about getting behind a wheel after drinking.”
More than 400 people attended his funeral at Viola Baptist Church on Sept. 30. The Kansas Honor Guard was at the service, recognizing Patterson-Schauf’s work as a law enforcement officer at El Dorado. A last-call ceremony was conducted over police radio.
Patterson-Schauf also was remembered at last Friday’s Clearwater Indians football game.
The DUI Victims Center of Kansas will make a contribution to Patterson-Schauf’s memorial, established with Great Plains Diabetes’ Camp Live Well, which is for youth from kindergarten through fourth grade who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Jaqueline Cook Green, executive director of the DUI Victims Center of Kansas, said a sober driver likely would not have collided with Patterson-Schauf.
“This didn’t have to happen,” she said. “He may have had many more decades of life to share with his loved ones, but those years were stolen from him. Clayton had no choice when his life ended on September 25th, 2021. His family and friends had no choice. The only one who had a choice was the impaired driver that took his life. I cannot begin to fathom the agony his parents, siblings and loved ones are experiencing.
“His choice to drive impaired cost Clayton his life. Please share Clayton’s story so that those you know who calculate impaired driving to be a low risk, understand that their life and the lives of others can be drastically changed by this miscalculation.”