With a bit of a southern drawl, Lisle Winger talks in plain and clear language when he describes the gruesome injuries his son, Nick, had when Lisle arrived at the Mankato hospital’s Intensive Care Unit in October.
Hours earlier, during a college homecoming party, Nick Winger had been run over by a car near an apartment complex in the 500 block of Joseph Path. A strut connected to one of the car’s wheels cut through the flesh on Winger’s stomach, his father said in a calm and collected tone Wednesday afternoon. Nick’s insides spilled out on to the asphalt. His liver was cut in half by the blunt piece of car metal. His pelvis, collar bone and bones in his back and other places were fractured or broken.
“He could have left us real easy,” Lisle Winger said. “It almost killed me because I lost Nick’s mother by an automobile accident with a drunk driver.”
The man who was driving the car that hit Nick Winger during the early morning hours of Oct. 10 was sentenced in Blue Earth County District Court Wednesday morning.
A 15-month prison sentence was stayed for Tyson Raymond Hennis, 25, of Marshall. He will be on probation for three years with the conditions he pay about $73,000 in restitution, complete between 15 and 30 days of sentence to service, complete a chemical dependency evaluation and not use alcohol or illegal drugs. The six days Hennis served in jail after his arrest also were included in the sentence.
Hennis pleaded guilty in April to a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident that involved injury. Charges of criminal vehicular injury while under the influence of alcohol, driving while intoxicated and driving after revocation were dismissed in a plea agreement.
Judge Krista Jass and Hennis’ probation officer, Steve Rick, said they were focusing on a sentence that would allow Hennis to be employed and pay restitution, which will help cover Nick Winger’s medical bills. Hennis would have to pay about $2,100 per month to finish restitution payments before his probation is over.
The car Hennis was driving was not insured and Winger did not have medical insurance at the time. Hennis had also faced many previous charges for crimes ranging from traffic offenses and underage drinking to theft and assault with a dangerous weapon.
“For your sake and the safety of the public, I hope you can make lasting changes,” Jass said.
Nick Winger, who was 5 or 6 years old when his mother was killed, had graduated from Minnesota State University more than a year before he was hit, Lisle Winger said. His friends asked him to return to Mankato for a homecoming party, but it was late when Nick arrived because he had to work that night.
A car had driven through a group of people at the apartment complex just before Nick Winger ran outside to see what was going on. While one group ran after the car to get the license plate number from the back, Nick ran in another direction to watch the car from the front as it drove out on to Monks Avenue. He slipped in the grass before he was run over.
Another guy, who didn’t know Nick or the others in the larger group, ran out of an apartment, took a car that had keys in it and drove after Hennis. Officers were able to arrest Hennis and his passengers after they bailed from the car.
After spending three days in intensive care and another week in the hospital, Nick Winger returned home where his father took care of him for about five months. He now lives in Dallas and wasn’t able to attend Hennis’ sentencing hearing.
“I had to forgive the drunk driver who killed his mother,” Lisle Hennis said. “I’ve basically had to do that again. I hope this guy can get his act together and he doesn’t put anyone else in jeopardy.”