KDH man, 83, receives suspended sentence for 2019 accident that killed two pedestrians

A Virginia couple was killed April 1, 2019 on North Virginia Dare Trail in Kitty Hawk. [Kari Pugh photo]

A Kill Devil Hills man pleaded guilty earlier this year to a charge of reckless driving in what police and prosecutors called a “horrible accident” that killed a Richmond-area mother and father walking along the Beach Road in Kitty Hawk with their family in April 2019.

Holly Nicolette, 40, and Alan “AJ” Nicolette, 37, of Mechanicsville, Virginia, were walking along the shoulder of N.C. 12 near Maynard Street with their two children, 6 and 8, and Alan’s parents when a pickup truck veered across the road and struck four of the six.

The child and Alan’s father suffered minor injuries. Alan and Holly Nicolette were fatally injured, both dying a short time after the accident.

Kitty Hawk Police Chief Joel Johnson said following the collision that it appeared the driver, David Archer, 83, either suffered a medical condition or fell asleep at the wheel.

“The defendant was born in 1938, and so we were assuming that’s what happened,” assistant District Attorney Jeff Cruden, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Nothing else made any sense. He’s driving on the Beach Road and everything’s fine, and all of a sudden he goes left of center and hits people on the other side of the road. That just doesn’t normally happen short of a medical episode or falling asleep.”

Alcohol and drugs were also not involved, Cruden said. “It was just a horrible accident that had very serious consequences.”

Archer was originally charged with driving left of center and two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.

Resolving the case was delayed in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was settled this past April when Archer entered a plea of guilty to a charge of reckless driving to endanger. He received a 30-day suspended sentence.

Cruden told the Times-Dispatch he authorized a reduction in charges after discussing the case with the Nicolettes’ family and learning that a civil settlement had been reached that would be used to financially support the couple’s two children — Mckenna and Luca.

The family “was trying to make sure the children were taken care of, and I think the defendant assisted in that, to help them recover as much as they possibly could,” Cruden said. “I know it was resolved to the victims’ family’s satisfaction.”

The fact that Archer had “never been in any kind of trouble before also played a role in our decision,” according to Cruden.

Cruden said Archer, although 81 at the time of the crash, “was able-bodied and had all his faculties about him,” and was working that day for a local building supply company. Archer’s attorney did not return a phone message for comment.

Holly Nicolette was an elementary school teacher in Hanover County and her husband a businessman.

More than 1,200 people, businesses and entities donated a total of $114,734 to the Nicolette family’s GoFundMe account, which will go directly to help raise the couple’s children, according to the Times-Dispatch.

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Sam Walker is news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3. Reach him at swalker3@jammediallc.com