Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Staff reports
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Sandstone teen's life comes to tragic end

Charles Hendricks, driver in fatal crash, officially charged

 

Colton Nelson of Sandstone died in a tragic two-vehicle crash the evening of February 9. Nelson was named this school year's East Central High School Homecoming king.

The local man suspected of driving intoxicated behind the wheel and killing another driver last week has been officially charged.

Charles Theodore Hendricks, 34, of Sandstone, was charged on Friday with criminal vehicular homicide, drunken driving and violating restrictions on his driving privileges, which forbid any use of alcohol and drugs.

The visitation for East Central High School senior Colton Nelson, 17, who was killed in the crash, drew hundreds to the school on Sunday afternoon. On Monday, close to a 1,000 people packed the gym for the funeral service where Nelson was remembered for his outgoing spirit, his plans to become a teacher following college and his athletic skills in football, basketball and golf. Nelson was selected as the homecoming king this fall and was a member of the East Central band.

Nelson also became an organ donor when he got his license last year.

The accident last Monday night, about 10:30 p.m., was less than a mile from Nelson's home, near 380th Avenue and Well Street. Two other people were with Nelson in the car: his sister, Kayln Nelson, 14, and friend Benjamin Dombroske, 16, who were injured but survived.

The complaint says Hendricks was driving his truck northbound and crossed the center line, hitting the Nelson car head on. Nelson was dead at the scene. A deputy reported hearing Hendricks yell at the scene, "What did I do? What did I do? I killed someone."

Deputies said there was a heavy odor of alcohol from Hendricks, he was slurring his speech and there was a nearly empty 750 ml vodka bottle in Hendricks' vehicle. A search warrant to obtain a blood draw from Hendricks was approved and was taken five hours after the accident where Hendricks was being treated, at North Memorial Hospital. The blood draw kit was submitted to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and test results are pending.

According to Minnesota court online records, there have been 18 other charges against him since 2002. Eight of the charges were for speeding. In 2008, he was charged with DWI and careless driving. The DWI charge was dismissed but he was charged with careless driving. He was also charged twice with disorderly conduct.

Criminal vehicular homicide carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and/or a fine of not more than $20,000. The court must prove Hendricks drove in a negligent manner.

Kanabec County Attorney Barbara McFadden declined comment since it is an ongoing case.

As of Tuesday morning, Hendricks has not been arrested. A source said he was still in the hospital.

The Kanabec County Sheriff's Office, Pine County Sheriff's Office, Minnesota State Patrol, Hinckley ambulance, Sandstone ambulance, Sandstone Fire & Rescue and North Air Care all responded and assisted with the accident.

 

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