Alaska Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Friday, March 10, 2006

Driver arrested after two wrecks

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JUNEAU - Police arrested a 27-year-old woman and charged her with driving while intoxicated and driving away from the first of two collisions Thursday morning.

Police reported that a 45-year-old man whose Ford pickup was struck by a Honda called in the accident and followed the Honda as it left the scene at Fourth and Main streets at 11:05 a.m. The Honda's driver, later identified as Jennifer Kelly Prince, drove outbound on Egan Drive until rear-ending a Ford flatbed that was stopped at the 10th Street intersection in the left turn lane, police said.

The driver of the flatbed, a 55-year-old man, was transported to Bartlett Regional Hospital, where he was treated for neck pain and released. His truck sustained about $2,000 in damage, and the pickup sustained about $200, police said.

Prince was lodged at Lemon Creek Correction Center with bail set at $1,000.

Seward Highway claims another life

ANCHORAGE - An 8-year-old Kenai boy was killed in a two-vehicle collision on the Seward Highway, considered one of the most dangerous highways in Alaska.

Paul Walluk died at the scene of the crash Wednesday near Mile 75, north of Turnagain Pass, after his mother lost control of her SUV and spun into the oncoming lane. The vehicle was struck broadside by an oncoming pickup truck, Alaska State Troopers said.

The boy's mother, Jennifer Showalter, 34, was seriously injured and flown to an Anchorage hospital.

Her 5-year-old daughter, Nadia Walluk, and the driver and passenger in the pickup, Robert Sundberg and Lisa Gamache of Seward, suffered injuries. Troopers said their injuries apparently were not life-threatening.

The highway was closed in both directions for almost two hours.

The crash marks at least the seventh fatal crash on the Seward Highway since June, according to troopers. At least nine people have died in those accidents.

According to troopers, more than 35 people have died on the 112 miles of roadway from Seward to Anchorage since 2001.

Wednesday's crash occurred in the lower section of the six-mile ascent from Ingram Creek to Turnagain Pass. In August 2003, six people died and seven were injured in two collisions in the area. Another fatal crash occurred in June 2001.

Showalter had just begun the climb to Turnagain Pass when she skidded on an icy stretch. Showalter was not speeding or trying to pass another vehicle, said troopers spokesman Greg Wilkinson.

"You're accelerating, so you have that torque on the rear end, and as soon as you hit that black ice, it will spin you around in nothing flat," Wilkinson said. "The problem is, you got the guy coming down in the truck."

Sundberg, the driver of the truck, had no options, Wilkinson said. The truck crushed the passenger side of Showalter's Durango, he said.

N.H. senator revisits ANWR proposal

FAIRBANKS - New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg has put oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge back on the same legislative track that derailed last year.

Gregg, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, unveiled his proposed budget resolution Wednesday. It counts on a total of $3 billion from ANWR oil revenues in fiscal years 2007 through 2011.

The Budget Committee was to consider amendments at a second meeting Thursday.

The budget resolution sometimes directs other committees with jurisdiction to propose bills that make changes in law necessary to meet the budgetary goals, a process known as "reconciliation."

Reconciliation bills are exempt from filibusters in the Senate, so last year Republican backers of ANWR drilling used the process to try to advance the cause. Filibuster threats, which require 60 votes to shut down, have stopped ANWR language for several years in the closely divided Senate.

The reconciliation bill passed the Senate last year but crashed in the House of Representatives when a dissident group of Republicans refused to vote for it because of the ANWR language.

That prompted Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, to add the language to a defense spending bill he was in charge of writing, but the Senate voted to remove it.

Chief: Officers didn't see kids at shootout

HOMER - Homer police officers involved in an airport shootout with a fugitive last week never saw the man's two small children in the back seat of his car, the Homer police chief said Wednesday.

Investigators still won't say if police, or federal marshals in charge of the operation, knew the children might be present. The shootout injured the fugitive's 2-year-old son who was in critical condition Thursday.

Killed in the front seat of his rented Jeep was Jason Karlo Anderson, 31. Shot nine times by police and mortally wounded, Anderson was able to turn his gun on himself and fire a fatal bullet through his own head, according to the state medical examiner.

"My officers never saw any children in the car," Homer police chief Mark Robl said. He would not say what information was discussed before the arrest attempt, citing an ongoing investigation.

A rental car agent who helped marshals lure Anderson to the airport March 1 has said the fugitive mentioned his children's presence as a reason for not entering the terminal. The agent has declined to say whether marshals had that information when they decided to attempt an arrest in the rental car parking lot.

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