Drunken driver sentenced for Blessings Tavern crash

Family: Man who caused crash has shown no remorse
The crash at Blessings Tavern in Colonie, Oct. 28, 2016.
The crash at Blessings Tavern in Colonie, Oct. 28, 2016.

ALBANY — Niko Dinovo’s mother tries to be the bigger person, she told a court Tuesday morning during her victim impact statement, but she finds that task especially hard.

Alicia Margaret Dinovo offered her statement at the sentencing of Michael Carr, the man who was driving while intoxicated when he caused an October 2016 crash that destroyed a tavern and left her son, a passenger in Carr’s vehicle, hospitalized during the 15 months since the crash. Niko remains unable to talk or walk, and his family continually prays for his full recovery, Alicia Margaret Dinovo said.

Carr, 19, received his agreed-upon sentence of six years in state prison on Tuesday.

“Michael Carr, I want you to feel the same hurt that I do, that Niko does, that my family endures daily,” Alicia Margaret Dinovo said a statement that was read by a relative, so she could remain at her son’s bedside. “Yet, in the back of my mind, I hope I can forgive you someday for what you have done to all of us.”

Niko Dinovo was 16 at the time of the crash. 

About 30 people were in Blessing’s Tavern when Carr’s 2006 BMW slammed into the 1116 Watervliet-Shaker Road building on Oct. 28, 2016. 

Carr was taken to Albany Medical Center, while Dinovo was sent to Westchester Medical Center’s burn unit. Niko stopped breathing for 18 minutes in the crash aftermath and has undergone 29 surgeries since the incident. A restaurant cook and a patron were also treated for injuries at Albany Medical Center.

Carr pleaded guilty last month to second-degree assault, a felony, and misdemeanor driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. He would have faced up to 15 years in prison if he had been convicted of the original counts lodged against him.

Judge William A. Carter sentenced Carr. Mary Tanner-Richter prosecuted the case for the Albany County District Attorney’s Office. The Albany County District Attorney’s Office also provided copies of the victim impact statements afterward.

In a statement afterward, Tanner-Richter assailed Carr for believing the incident to be an accident. Dinovo family members also told the court Carr had shown no remorse.

“Multiple families are forever changed because of his choice to drink, smoke marijuana and drive a car at an excessive rate of speed,” the prosecutor said. “Those criminal choices have consequences, and Mr. Carr now has the next six years to think about them and hopefully make positive life choices upon his release from custody.”

Tanner-Richter added that she hoped the case would make others think twice before driving under the influence.

“We have spent the last 458 days crying, praying and trying to figure out why and how this happened,” Alicia Margaret Dinovo said.

Niko’s brother Michael also spoke. He told of how doctors gave Niko virtually no chance to survive — just 1 percent.

“What has been done to my brother and the pain that it caused my family is irreversible,” Michael Dinovo said. “But as strong as we are because of Niko and the amount of faith we have in God and his plan, hopefully one day we can forgive you. 

“Hopefully one day, Niko can tell you how he feels when he makes a full recovery, because that is exactly what he’s going to do.”

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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