One is too many

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Motherhood can be a numbers game. How many children do you have? How old are they? How many miles did you drive this week between practice, piano and playdates?

On the evening of Sept. 2, Mary Kilar, mother of four, faced her numbers. “I had four of my family members going in different ambulances, and I had to choose which one to go in … Thinking about your entire family being wiped out, one of the things that is horrific about it is choosing.”

Photos of Treyton, 6, line a shelf in his bedroom, where it is easy to see what a devoted baseball fan he was. Photo by Lukas Keapproth

Eileen Jaskolski, commonly referred to as “Grandma J,” counts her blessings, numbering three children and seven grandchildren whom she talks about constantly. On the evening of Sept. 2, she watched television at her Sussex, Wis., home when the phone rang. Eileen answered to hear her daughter, Mary, uttering the words she now hears over and over. “Mom, I need you to be strong. Mike was hit by a drunk driver. I’m in an ambulance, and Treyton is fighting for his life.”

Brittany Kilar, 17, the oldest of the Kilar children, saw her numbers in miles. On the evening of Sept. 2, she was in Elkhorn, Wis., with her swim team. As they filed into the locker room, her coach’s husband approached her and said she had to leave with him immediately. While packing her things, she received a call from her mother. “She was yelling, ‘There was a car accident! Trey is fighting for his life! Be strong and pray hard.’”

After traveling 52.6 miles, Brittany felt her heart race upon arrival at Waukesha Memorial Hospital. Nurses escorted her to a “quiet room” where she would wait to hear more. A social worker entered the room and began to explain what happened but was interrupted. “My mom came in crying and was saying, ‘He took my baby!’ When I saw her and heard her say that, I just started crying even harder. Because I knew that my 6-year-old brother was dead.”

Mary Kilar holds on tightly to her 5-year-old as they walk away from visiting Trey's grave. Photo by Lukas Keapproth

For each of these women, the numbers come down to one thing: one less son, one less grandchild, one less brother. They are not alone in their grief — last year in Wisconsin, 238 people died and nearly 4,000 were injured in alcohol-related crashes. To those who knew Treyton Kilar, the numbers don’t matter. One is too many. For Mary and her family, what matters is a choice, the choice authorities say one man made to drink and drive.

On Sept. 2, Mike Kilar watched volleyball at East Troy High School, cheering for Whitewater’s teams with his two youngest children, Treyton, 6, and Kindyl, 5. On the court, his wife, Mary, assistant-coached the Whitewater varsity team, and Rosie, his 16-year-old, played with the JV team. When both games ended, Mike rounded up Rosie, Trey and Kindyl to head home while Mary stayed behind to finish collecting stats from the game.

Mike and Rosie sat in the front of their minivan, with Treyton and Kindyl directly behind them. At 8:10 p.m., Mike crossed the intersection between State Highway 20 and County Highway N. At that second, police say Scott Dragotta came down Highway N in a full-sized Chevrolet Suburban and plowed into the driver’s side of the Kilar’s vehicle. Officials say Mike could never have seen Dragotta coming. The impact sent the car flying into a telephone pole and onto a nearby lawn. According to the police report, Dragotta said he drank three or four beers — his blood alcohol concentration registered at 0.191, more than double Wisconsin’s legal limit of 0.08.

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