By Shereen Siewert
A 21-year-old Hatley man convicted Wednesday of homicide by drunken driving faces a minimum five-year prison term when he is sentenced in July.
Police and prosecutors say Heith A. Gureski, 21, was behind the wheel in a November crash that killed his friend, 21-year-old Bryce Giles. He pleaded no contest to the homicide charge on Wednesday and remains behind bars on a $500,000 cash bond. The minimum five-year prison term is required under recently-passed legislation in Wisconsin.
The crash was reported in the early morning hours of Nov. 15 in the area of County Road J and Roble Lane in the town of Weston. Initially, dispatchers were told there were two people traveling in the vehicle with the rollover crash happened; one person was trapped inside but the passenger was not located. Witnesses then found Giles, the passenger, pinned under the truck and non-responsive. Eight bystanders were at the scene when officers arrived.
Witnesses told police Gureski and Giles arrived at a tavern on County Road J earlier in the evening and stayed until the bar closed, then left in Gureski’s vehicle. Gureski was allegedly driving to Giles’ home when the crash happened.
Giles was pronounced dead at the scene. Gureski was transported to Aspirus Wausau Hospital for treatment but was not seriously injured, police said.
During an interview, Gureski told police he was driving about 55 mph when his wheels hit the shoulder and he left the roadway, according to court documents, but could not give a specific answer regarding how many drinks he had in the roughly five hours he was at the bar.
Circuit Judge Suzanne O’Neill will sentence Gureski on July 12 following a presentencing investigation.