Teen in deadly 2016 Hanover crash will spend 6 years in prison - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side


Teen in deadly 2016 Hanover crash will spend 6 years in prison

Nickolas Seth Fleming (Source: Hanover Sheriff's Office) Nickolas Seth Fleming (Source: Hanover Sheriff's Office)

A teen who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in a deadly crash in Hanover County was sentenced on Thursday.

Seth Fleming was sentenced to 20 years with 14 suspended. He will serve an active sentence of six years.

The judge deviated from the sentencing guidelines which suggested Fleming spend 0-6 months behind bars. She said Fleming's actions as a minor, drinking and driving the night of the crash, and using drugs while out on bond, played a factor in the decision.

Fleming was behind the wheel when his car crashed on Cold Harbor Road on April 23, 2016. The crash killed two of his friends: 17-year-old Dylan Ballard and 22-year-old Elliot Hinton. Fleming pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the case.

According to Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Royalty, on the night of the fatal crash, Fleming raced down Cold Harbor Road, with two witnesses saying his truck reached upwards of 70 mph. Fleming's truck then slammed into a tree.

Fleming and three other passengers were seriously injured and taken to VCU. Royalty said Hinton and Ballard died "within seconds" of the crash, and both young men had blunt force head injuries, as well as compound fractures to their legs, arms and hip.

Blood drawn from Fleming an hour after the wreck showed his BAC to be between a .069 and .072 percent.

Thursday's sentencing brought emotional testimony from Elliot Hinton and Dylan Ballard's families. Nearly a dozen witnesses spoke on behalf of Ballard, Hinton and Fleming.

"Dylan was a perfect example of life in my eyes," said Donna Ballard, Dylan's mother. 

Ballard says the last 587 days without her son have been a nightmare, and for the rest of her life, she will pray for the families affected by the crash. 

Elliot Hinton's mother, grandmother and father also spoke to the court. 

"Our lives stopped and they have never been the same," said Pat Hinton, Elliot's grandmother.

His father, Danny Hinton, says their lives are now forever filled with nevers because they have lost their oldest son. Danny Hinton's son Patrick actually survived the crash, but he had serious injuries.

Fleming's mother tearfully told the court her son takes responsibility for the death of his friends."

"He is a kid that made a terrible choice, but he wants to do better," said Brenda Harding, Fleming's mother.

His lawyer, Carl Whitmeyer, says Fleming has grown and matured in the seven months he has been in the Pamunkey Regional Jail.

Fleming told the court he is sorry for what he has done, asking for forgiveness, hoping one day he can "make something of himself," and make his family proud. Fleming is currently in AA and also says he wants to continue therapy.

The judge ordered Fleming to pay restitution, $35,000 for the funeral costs for Hinton and Ballard. 

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