COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) – A 20-year-old man pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony death by motor vehicle and driving while impaired in connection to the May 2, 2012 death of his 21-year-old friend.
According to a news release on behalf of District Attorney Jon David, Nicholas Kent Wilkinson pleaded in Columbus County Superior Court.
Last May, Wilkinson participated in underage drinking while attending a party where alcohol was being served to minors.
Early in the morning following the party, Wilkinson got behind the wheel of his car with his friend, Ryan Christopher Hommel, asleep in the passenger seat. Wilkinson left the party, despite witnesses' protests.
Shortly thereafter, officials with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol responded to a call about a vehicle collision.
Upon arrival at the scene, troopers came across Wilkinson's car, which was nearly split in half after crashing into a tree.
Both Wilkinson and Hommel were ejected from the car in the crash, injuring Wilkinson and killing Hommel.
An investigation showed that the car had been traveling around 100 miles per hour when it hit the tree.
Wilkinson received a six-month active split, after consulting with Hommel's family, including three years of supervised probation to follow. He will also be required to undergo alcohol and psychological evaluations and treatment, and he will have to complete 75 hours of community service.
Wilkinson was charged with driving after consuming alcohol while under the age of 21 in September 2012, just four months following the deadly crash.
For his plea to that charge, he received a straight active sentence on the class 2 misdemeanor, to be served at the end of his six-month active split in the felony death by motor vehicle case.
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