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Police: Anchorage van used to pick up inebriates taken on drunken joyride

Posted: July 9, 2011 - 8:54pm

ANCHORAGE — A city van used to pick up drunken people was taken on a joyride by a man suspected of drunken driving, Anchorage police said.

The Anchorage Daily News reported that 35-year-old Donny H. Weston was arrested late Thursday after getting into a Community Service Patrol van parked with the keys in the engine. Social workers were attending inebriated people when Weston got into the van.

“He hopped in, revved the engine and took off,” said police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker. The van was likely left running to power the lights, Parker explained.

Weston drove the van for significant distance, including driving against oncoming traffic, police said, and he eventually crashed the van into a bus and ditched it.

The Community Service Patrol is funded by the city’s Department of Health and Human Services and picks up inebriates on Anchorage streets after they’ve had too much to drink. Attendants take the people to a sleep-off center attached to Anchorage Correctional Complex.

DHHS Director Diane Ingle declined to comment on why the van was unlocked, running and with the keys in the ignition.

“That’s part of the investigation,” Ingle said.

After ditching the van, Weston took off running. He was chased by police and bystanders. Police said Weston blew more than twice the legal limit for alcohol.

There were no reported injuries. Damage to the bus and van is estimated at $30,000, police said.

The intoxicated clients onboard were apparently unaware their ride had been hijacked, Parker said. “Often, they’ll fall asleep in the CSP van,” he said.

Weston has a long rap sheet. According to court records, he has been charged in the past with criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter, sexual abuse of a minor, failing to register as a sex offender, assault, criminal mischief, and minor consuming.

After the joy ride, he’s now charged with vehicle theft, criminal mischief, leaving the scene of an accident, driving while intoxicated, driving without a valid license and reckless endangerment, police said.

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