MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A suspected drunken driver is accused of killing a teenager who had a bright and promising future.

Police say a truck driven by 34-year-old Charles Hendricks crashed into a car Monday night in rural Sandstone.

Hendricks is in fair condition at North Memorial Hospital.

The crash killed 17-year-old Colton Nelson.

Kayla and Curt Nelson say they feel blessed to have had 17 years with their son.

As they flipped through Colton’s senior pictures, they remember the young man who cared so much about family.

“The kind of kid who would come home and sit on the couch with you instead of going and locking himself in his room,” Kayla Nelson said.

Colton was a standout student athlete at East Central. He was a star basketball and football player, who was crowned homecoming king this year.

His parents say he was a friend to everyone he met.

“Apparently what I’m finding out, [Colton] influenced so many more lives than I ever dreamt,” Kayla said.

Colton was driving his sister and a friend on a familiar stretch of road near the family farm Monday night.

It was at the intersection of Well Street and 380th Avenue along Highway 28 in Sandstone where Hendricks hit their car.

Police say a bottle of vodka was found inside his truck.

“We’re thankful that it was only Colton loss and not the other two, that they’re OK, but they also have to live with this for the rest of their lives,” Kayla said. “I pray for Charlie and his family because he has young children too, and they need their dad.”

The Nelsons say they believe their son will go on, in the memory of those who loved him, as well as in those who will be given the gift of life from his organs.

“When he got his license he just was so proud to say, ‘I’m an organ donor, Mom.’ And we didn’t know. He did it all on his own.”

Hendrick’s children go to the same school as Nelson. His parents say they live in a tight-knit community.

The Nelsons say they are going through this tragedy together.

Reg Chapman

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