Rocky Harbour man gets jail time for drunk driving crash that killed friend

27-year-old Nicholas Decker was charged in the 2016 incident that killed his friend and injured two others.

Nicholas Decker pleaded guilty to refusing the breathalyzer after putting car in ditch

Nicholas Decker, seen here in a Corner Brook courtroom on Thursday, is 'extremely remorseful,' says his lawyer. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

A 27-year-old man from western Newfoundland has been sentenced to two years less a day for charges laid after a 2016 crash that killed his friend.

Nicholas Decker was behind the wheel on the night of Aug. 13, 2016, when his car flipped and ended up in a ditch near St. Pauls, on the Northern Peninsula highway.

David White, 20, was declared dead at the scene. Two other passengers, a man and woman, were injured and taken to hospital.

Decker, who is from Rocky Harbour, was charged with a variety of offences, including impaired driving causing death and dangerous operation of a vehicle causing bodily harm. 

He pleaded guilty to charges of refusing to provide a breath sample, and other charges were withdrawn.

In sentencing Decker on Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Brian Furey called it, "a tragic situation with life-lasting consequences."

He's certainly feeling extremely remorseful. He's having a difficult day today.- Robby Ash

Noting that Decker has a good home life and support, he sentenced him to just under two years, which means he will serve time in a provincial institution.

"Not a day goes by that he doesn't think about what happened and the death of this friend," said Decker's lawyer, Robby Ash.

"In fact he named his son — who was named after the accident — after David, the victim who [is] deceased in this case. He's certainly feeling extremely remorseful. He's having a difficult day today." 

David White, who died in a car crash August, 2016, and his sister Kelly. (submitted photo)

Submissions to court indicated that Decker was driving erratically before the accident, and speeding. Furey said Decker told police officers he had been drinking. RCMP said he smelled strongly of alcohol and was stumbling.

Decker's sentence also prohibits him from driving for three years.​

Furey said the case was not just about refusing the breathalyzer, pointing out that a person was killed.

He also reflected that drunk driving still occurs at "an alarming rate" no matter how often people are charged and convicted.

White was originally from Rocky Harbour but was living in Corner Brook at the time of the accident.

About the Author

Colleen Connors

CBC News

Colleen Connors reports on western Newfoundland from CBC's bureau in Corner Brook.