“I killed someone!” a drunken and bloodied pickup truck driver yelled as he crawled in the dark near the twisted wreckage that held a teenager’s body, according to charges filed in an east-central Minnesota court.
Colton J. Nelson, 17, a top football and basketball player at East Central High School, was killed in a head-on collision Feb. 9, less than a mile from his family’s farm outside Sandstone. The senior was homecoming king this school year and a percussionist in school bands. He was making plans for college.
Hundreds of mourners attended funeral services Monday in the school gym. The family said Colton decided when he got his driver’s license at age 16 to be an organ donor.
The pickup truck driver, Charles T. Hendricks, 34, of Sandstone, was charged Friday with criminal-vehicular homicide, drunken driving and violating restrictions on his driving privileges.
“He is beyond hurt,” Susan Hendricks, Hendricks’ sister, said Tuesday, “He has to live with this the rest of his life, knowing the pain he caused his family and the other family.”
She called the wreck a tragic mistake that “Charlie never would have done intentionally.” She begged motorists to “never get behind the wheel after drinking. … Some of the best people of society make the choice to drive intoxicated, and accidents come in no order.”
Nelson was driving home with his 14-year-old sister, Kalyn, and a friend Benjamin Dombroske, 16, who survived their injuries, authorities said.
According to the criminal complaint, Hendricks’ northbound pickup crossed the centerline and hit Nelson’s car head-on. Nelson was dead at the scene, trapped in the wreckage.
A sheriff’s deputy saw Hendricks “covered in blood, crawling on the ground” and yelling, “ ‘What did I do? What did I do? I killed someone,’ ” the charging document read.
A nearly empty vodka bottle was found by a deputy in Hendricks’ pickup. His speech was slurred, and his breath carried a “heavy odor” of alcohol.
“Any use of alcohol or drugs invalidates his license,” the complaint against Hendricks read.
A sister’s regret
In the past 10 years, Hendricks has been convicted of multiple driving violations, including driving on a suspended license, driving without license plates and without insurance, four speeding convictions and a careless-driving conviction in a case in which a drunken-driving charge was dismissed.
He’s also been convicted twice for disorderly conduct and once for misdemeanor assault.
Hendricks was taken from the scene by air ambulance to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, the Sheriff’s Office said.
His sister said he’s doing better physically but “is getting intensive treatment for his mental state.”
“As his sister,” Susan Hendricks said, “I feel there was so much more I could have done to save him, save Colton.”
Her brother, she said, “was scared to get help, the help he so much needed for his mind to function correctly.”