Handcuffed fugitive drowns in Nancy Lake

Man escaped troopers by kicking out patrol car window, fleeing

Posted: Tuesday, August 16, 2005

ANCHORAGE - The body of a young Wasilla man who escaped from an Alaska State Trooper patrol car last week was found floating in a lake.

Nicholas Alan Hill, 20, was still wearing handcuffs when his body was discovered Sunday at Nancy Lake in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

Trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson said troopers had become concerned when Hill had not appeared after kicking out the window of a patrol car and fleeing.

"It's very sad," he said.

An officer arrested Hill late Tuesday night near Mile 99 of the Parks Highway. Hill had experienced car problems and was stopped at a Tesoro gas station.

"He actually flagged the trooper down," Wilkinson said.

The officer ran Hill's identification and discovered that Hill was being sought on a warrant for failure to appear for arraignment. Hill had been charged in Valdez with consuming alcohol as a minor.

The officer arrested Hill. He was handcuffed with his hands behind his back and placed in the back seat of a patrol car with a seat belt on.

While transporting Hill to Mat-Su Pretrial Facility in Palmer, the escorting trooper was ordered to respond to a report of a serious car accident in which the occupants were trapped.

The officer stopped near Mile 65 of the Parks Highway to assist the victims.

Rear doors on patrol cars cannot be opened from the inside. Rear windows can be opened only from the front seat.

When the officer returned to his car shortly after midnight, he discovered that Hill had kicked out a side window of the patrol car and wriggled out.

Troopers searched for him in the dark Wednesday morning using a hand-held infrared device. Troopers resumed the search during daylight hours but found no sign of Hill.

A second arrest warrant was issued later that day from Palmer. He was sought on additional charges of escape and criminal mischief for damaging the car.

Troopers posted a photo of Hill, describing him as 5 feet 7 inches tall, about 150 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes.

In the days after the escape, troopers continued to look for Hill and spoke to his relatives and friends. Wilkinson said troopers hoped Hill would call and turn himself in.

"We were concerned," Wilkinson said. "We wanted to find out he was OK."

Troopers at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday received a call from the Nancy Lake Marina that a body had been spotted along the shoreline of the lake. Troopers recovered Hill's body.

Investigators say Hill apparently entered the water about three-quarters of a mile from where he escaped from the trooper car. Water at that spot in the lake drops off quickly to about 30 feet, Wilkinson said.

Their investigation Sunday was hampered when one officer stepped on a bee hive, leading to speculation that Hill may have done the same and sought relief in the water, Wilkinson said.

Troopers said they have not determined whether he intentionally or accidentally entered the water.

An autopsy has been ordered.

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