Photo: John Carl D’Annibale
ALBANY — Michael DiNovo stood behind a photo of his younger brother Niko and spoke about the impact the teen’s death had on his family.
Next to him to stood their mother Alicia holding another photo: Niko in his hospital bed without bandages on his face. The photo showed the aftermath of the crash, as Niko tried to recover from third-degree burns on over 95 percent of his body. He was 17 when he died in March 2018, more than a year after he was gravely injured in a crash that sent the driver to prison.
“One night, one poor decision and 508 days of gruesome recovery that ended a child’s life and left a broken-hearted family,” Michael DiNovo said. “The reason I tell you this story and show you his picture is in hope that we can be the ones to save someone’s life.”
The DiNovo family of Colonie came out to support the state’s annual crackdown on impaired driving, which runs from Aug. 14 through Sept. 2. The STOP-DWI campaign, funded through fines paid by convicted impaired drivers, is designed to reduce alcohol and drug-related crashes.
In 2018 campaign, law enforcement issued 3,978 tickets for impaired driving and over 165,500 other tickets. The STOP-DWI campaign also released a free app, Have a Plan, for mobile phones that includes features such as programming for designated driver lists, contacts for taxi services and ride-share services and the ability to report a suspected impaired driver.
The Oct 28, 2016 crash happened after Michael Carr, DiNovo’s friend, sped away from a Colonie police officer who was following them. Carr crashed into Blessings Tavern in Colonie while going more than 60 mph.
The impact of the crash pinned DiNovo and started a fire that damaged the tavern and a truck. The crash also injured William Mattice, a Blessings Tavern employee.
The DiNovos talked about the pain they went through watching Niko DiNovo try and survive his injuries.
“This was a very hard decision for us as a family to show Niko’s picture after the accident,” his mother said. “But we felt the impact would be so much greater. If we could stop one person from driving under the influence then we did what we sent out to do: stop a mom from feeling the pain I feel every single day.”
Carr, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. He was sentenced to six years in state prison in January 2018. DiNovo died less than three months later on March 19, 2018.