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81-year-old driver charged in Outer Banks crash that killed Hanover teacher, husband

Posted at 12:28 PM, Apr 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-05 18:52:38-04

KITTY HAWK, NC -- Officials said an 81-year-old man has been charged in an Outer Banks crash that killed a Hanover County teacher and her husband on Spring Break.

Officials said David Archer of Kill Devil Hills was charged with Driving Left of Center and two counts of Misdemeanor Death by Motor Vehicle in the April 1 crash that killed Alan and Holly Nicolette of Mechanicsville.

"Our investigation has determined that Mr. Archer had an unknown medical incident or fell asleep while driving before he struck the victims," Kitty Hawk Police Chief Joel C. Johnson said. "Alcohol was not a factor and it was not intentional nor was there any malice."

Crash victim was beloved teacher 

South Anna Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Holly Nicolette, 40, and her husband AJ, 37, were killed when a driver struck them as they walked along the shoulder of N.C. 12 in Kitty Hawk on Monday, according to police and Hanover County Schools.

Nicolette taught fourth and fifth graders at South Anna Elementary School in Montpelier for thirteen years.

"We are heartbroken to learn of the tragic death of Holly Nicolette and her husband. We extend our deepest sympathy to her family and loved ones for their devastating and unimaginable loss," Hanover Superintendent Dr. Michael Gill said earlier this week. "We are grateful for her dedicated service to Hanover County Public Schools and the positive impact that she had on the lives of her students and colleagues. We will provide extra support to our students and staff as they return to school on Monday and begin dealing with this incredibly sad loss."

AJ and Holly Nicolette

AJ and Holly Nicolette

Parents, students remember Mrs. Nicolette for 'kind words and sense of humor'

Justine Atkinson, whose daughter is in Nicolette's fifth-grade class, said the teacher was excellent at her job.

“She was hilarious. She made learning fun,” Atkinson said, referring to Holly Nicolette.

Atkinson and other parents, grappled to find the right way to tell their children. They even shared articles about helping children cope with death.

“I knew she adored this teacher and telling her would be hard, and it was," Atkinson added. "I didn’t want to cry, but we did. When we started talking about it, it was just raw and real.”

Lauren Paynter’s son, Aiden,  one of Nicolette’s former students, penned a tribute to the beloved educator.

He wrote that Mrs. Nicollette was a terrific and cool teacher every student wanted.

“Her kind words and sense of humor made her students smile as they walked in the door. She should be commended for her dedication to teaching our generation of students how to be successful in the future,” Aiden continued.

Grief counselors will be on hand next week when students at South Anna Elementary return to school from spring break.

Funeral Details 

A visitation will take place Saturday at 9 a.m. at Hunton Baptist Church at 11660 Greenwood Road in Glen Allen. That will be followed by a funeral service at 11 a.m., according to an obituary. 

The family asked for contributions to a fund established for the couple's two children in lieu of flowers.

A GoFundMe account has also been established to benefit the couple's children.