Calgary

Good Samaritan left to die alone in ditch by motorist he helped

Nikko David didn't hesitate to stop when he saw a motorist waving for help at side of the road in Calgary. But the Good Samaritan was flung into a ditch by a passing truck in a hit and run — then the man he stopped to help drove away without calling 911.

'This is the saddest, most devastating story': Friends mourn the death of Hugh (Nikko) David

Hugh (Nikko) David, whose body was found in a Calgary ditch in November 2016, poses the previous summer with Josh DiMatteo, the son of Nikko's close friend Gino DiMatteo. (Gino DiMatteo)

It was a Saturday night and despite suffering recent hardships, Hugh David — known as Nikko to his friends — didn't hesitate to stop when he saw a motorist waving for help at side of the road in Calgary.

Minutes later, as the Good Samaritan was giving directions to the lost motorist, David was flung into a ditch by a passing truck that didn't stop. Police confirm the man in his 30s who David had stopped to help also drove away, without calling 911. 

David, 54, who was from Nova Scotia, eventually died alone in that ditch. His body was found the next day, on Nov. 6, 2016.

"This is the saddest, most devastating story," said Gino DiMatteo, David's close friend and employer.

Police were eventually able to track down the man who flagged David down. He is not facing any charges.

 On Wednesday, Aaron Adam, 47, was arrested for hit and run causing death.

The news came as small comfort to David's friends.

"It's relief because we've all been waiting … but what's going on in that guy's life?" asked DiMatteo of the driver's decision to take off.

Despite searching both Nova Scotia and Alberta, police could not find any family for David, but the lack of blood relatives didn't mean David was alone. 

"I sent him to a job site one time and even though he didn't know any of the people, within days he'd befriended everybody," said DiMatteo. "They all showed up to his funeral."

David 'had nowhere to go'

David drove gravel and crane trucks for DiMatteo's company Atrium Logistics. He also worked at Scotian Style Pizza and Donair, where he felt at home with the food and the Bluenoser staff.

"He was one of the proudest Scotians that anyone ever would meet," said owner Jason Doherty, who helped make sure David had a proper burial. "He was a true brother to so many people here ... I feel so lost without him here."

David and Doherty had plans to open a fish and chip truck. 

Nikko David's casket was draped in a Nova Scotia flag by his friends who came together and organized his burial. (Jason Doherty)

Despite describing his friend as a "wonderful" and "altruistic" person, DiMatteo says David's life was burdened with more than his fair share of hardships.

"He would give people dignity but he wouldn't get it back," he said. 

For a year and a half, David had an arrangement to park an RV where he lived on an elderly lady's property in exchange for yard work and maintenance.

Eventually she needed to be in a care facility and the new land owners immediately kicked David off the property in what DiMatteo described as an "ugly situation."

"He had nowhere to go," said DiMatteo, who allowed David to park on some land he owned.

Friend learns of death on news

Moments before David pulled over to help the stranded driver, he was on the phone with DiMatteo upset about his current situation. DiMatteo told David to calm down, that he would help. David apologized and said he was under a lot of pressure. 

That was their last conversation.

The next day, DiMatteo couldn't track down his friend and employee who had been driving his truck.

Then DiMatteo and Doherty learned from the news that a man had died in a hit and run who was the same age as David. 

"It's a statement about our society," DiMatteo said of the fact that two people did not help his friend that night. "I really question where are we headed here?"

Made friends easily

David was the type of guy who not only made friends easily, he also took the time to talk with and teach children, including DiMatteo's. 

"He was a wonderful soul," DiMatteo said, emotion catching in his throat. "I think about him every day ... it's like losing a family member."

On Thursday, the man accused of killing David and driving away was released on bail. He is back in court later this month.

There is likely a long road ahead — a case can take years to get to trial.

In the meantime, DiMatteo would like to see his friend's life honoured by having the stretch of 17th Avenue S.E. from 92nd Street to the city limits named "Nikko David Parkway."

He'd also like to see a little more compassion and kindness.

"People need to be careful about how they treat others," he said.