Saturday, November 5, 2011

Transcript: Daniel Dale, 15, dies of hypothermia - is stepfather to blame?


SUSAN GALE: I don`t know what happened out there, I wasn`t there. I only know what I know from the minute that Daniel and Brian left at 1o`clock that Sunday afternoon through to the dreadful news that they had found Daniel but he hadn`t made it at around 4:30 that Monday afternoon.

All I know is what Brian has told me happened. It`s not up to me to find out the truth, that`s why we have the justice system. But I know that worst-case scenario is that Brian murdered Daniel, best-case scenario is that my son was left alone in the dark, freezing cold, petrified, with no comfort. That`s the best-case scenario.

DIMOND: Susan, This is a man that you have been married to for ten years, you`re still married although not living together currently.

What reason might your husband have for killing your son?

SUSAN GALE: I cannot think of one reason why Brian would hurt a hair on his head, not one. They had a good relationship, which makes this even harder.

I have never been able to understand why Brian would walk away from Daniel for any reason at all. As I say, it`s not my job to give the answers. I don`t know why.

DIMOND: Maybe Brian is telling the truth, maybe they got exhausted slogging through the swamp while they were hunting, they had their waders on, their long clothing on and your son just couldn`t go any further and Brian went for help. Could that be a possibility?

SUSAN GALE: Again, I`m not there, I know my son more than I knew Brian.

Daniel`s not a quitter. Daniel doesn`t give up. Daniel and I had the most wonderful relationship and there is no way that he`s just going to -- he`s not going to stand there and wait, he`s going to go, he`s going to try and get out of that place. He didn`t like to hunt. He didn`t like that.

DIMAND: Not a quitter. Now, Susan, I hope you`re OK with this, we have Brian Gale on the telephone with us now.

Brian, welcome to the broadcast, I thank you for being here. Tell us what happened that night? You are charged with six very serious felonies, including murder, manslaughter, et cetera, what happened?

BRIAN GALE: Thank you, ma`am. Well, we scouted the wild turkey. That was the whole purpose of the trip. We went the day before and we put out some corn for hogs and turkey on some private property that I manage.

DIMOND: Right.

BRIAN GALE: And shot the high powered rifles at targets at a range and we had a blast. And the next day, I asked him did he want to go and he said yes, and so we went back out. I knew there wouldn`t be any hogs on the corn, so I said we`ll do some turkey season is two weeks off, we`ll do a little bit of scouting down on the state property.

DIMOND: Now, Brian, you know what I noticed about your stepson, he was about 5`10" or so and weighed 117pounds so he was a tall, thin, lanky kid.

You left him. You left him in the woods all alone and I read you said that was probably the worst decision you ever made in your life?

BRIAN GALE: Yes, yes it was. But at the time we -- ma`am, it had got dark, Daniel couldn`t walk and I was having to carry him. And I made it -- actually the worst decision was -- I had made a fire when I was leaning up against the tree, he kept wanting to rest, I said son, it`s getting dark, we need to head on out.

I think he was just -- something was wrong with him and, you know, I said, well, you know, I started make a fire. I actually had a fire going and that`s before he ever got wet, before we got down into the deep part of the swamp. I made a fire and I started looking around for pompons and cut them. I knew what ridge we were on at that time. And I knew that the quickest way back to the truck was about a half mile through swamp. And this is a proper swamp, this is a very difficult terrain.

DIMOND: Right, I read about it. Very sloggy with your boots on and whatnot.

BRIAN GALE: All along the east coast of the United States, it`s probably the last wilderness area except for the okefenokee.

DIMOND: Now, Brian. I want to be sure to ask you certain questions because we are running out of time.

But let me ask you this, So you leave him at a tree, yet when they find him, he`s face down in the water.

BRIAN GALE: But, ma`am, see, when we started to walk to try to get straight to the truck, it was a straight shot, back to the truck. We had went through some actual swamp and I was having -- Daniel couldn`t -- he kept falling so I started -- I had to drop my steady stick, without a steady stick you can`t walk in the swamp because you`re going to be falling. So I had to carry him, I had to put the light in my mouth, I had the GPS in my left hand and we were under a canopy and it kept losing the signal and I was carrying Daniel, we kept falling and it was cold. And when I hit the water it took everything out of me the first time I hit the water.

DIMOND: What do you think Brian happened to cause him to leave the tree and be found facedown in the water when the rescue workers came? What happened?

BRIAN GALE: We were going for like seven hours at least six to see hours I told to Daniel and we made the supreme physical evidence to try to break out and the GPS, I regret not having a backup compass. I wouldn`t be in this position right now if I had a backup compass.

My first instinct was to stay at the fire when it got dark and not move and I regret that and I always will and I know that was my mistake. But after we made the decision, the commitment to try to get back to the truck and we got turned around, I had no choice but to keep moving with him and we got back too far to the southwest.

DIMOND: Right. Brian, hang on a minute. Brian, hang on just a second.

I hear the pain and the emotion in Brian`s voice Susan.

Could this just have all been a horrible, horrible accident and that he shouldn`t have been charged with murder?

SUSAN GALE: It was a preventable accident.

DIMOND: it`s very emotional to hear his story.

SUSAN GALE: I hear his story. I hear very much.

I hear the pain in his voice, I do, and I sympathize with him. He not only -- he feels like he`s a victim here. I have a life sentence, as does my child, my oldest child Christopher of never seeing my son again. There wasn`t a second of a minute of an hour of a day that I don`t think about how my son died and as I said, at the very best, he died alone, petrified, his worst fear was drowning in the dark.

DIMOND: Oh, Susan, I`m so sorry.

SUSAN GALE: And that`s exactly how he was left. 

SUSAN GALE: We were together for several months after this happened. But this just -- there`s so much conflicting stories and different elements.

I have every faith in the justice system, all the agencies. I just know that with due diligence they`re going to give this matter what it`s needed. We have -

DIMOND: I hear what you`re saying. Let`s leave it up to the law.

Brian, what I hear your wife saying is she thinks maybe you did something to Brian.

BRIAN GALE: I didn`t harm Danny. I had no reason to harm him. I loved Danny. I tried my best to save Daniel that night.

SUSAN GALE: I still love Daniel.

BRIAN GALE: But I failed. I failed. And not a day goes by that I don`t think about it. And I`ve second guessed myself. If I had to do it all over again -- the reason I left him was to go get help for him or to try and make a fire. I told him I`d be back in 15 or 20minutes, either make a fire or I`ll come back with help.

DIMOND: This is a family tragedy. I hope you can all get through it somehow, someway. 

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