ANCHORAGE - A man was charged with manslaughter in the death of a woman whose vehicle was forced off the road last year, causing it to flip several times, according to Anchorage police.
Gail Fejes was killed the morning of June 27, 2004, and her 10-year-old son was injured. Both were not wearing their seat belts and were thrown from the vehicle.
Police initially thought Fejes died in a single-vehicle rollover in her sport utility vehicle. But the boy who lived through it told them otherwise. Now officials say it was a road rage homicide by a driver who "brake-checked" Fejes, forcing her off the road.
Police said Tuesday their investigation took off when a tipster who called months after the wreck gave them additional information that backed up the boy's story about another driver.
Mark E. Elkins, 23, who has a history of driving violations, also faces charges of assault and failing to render assistance to an injured person after an accident. Police say he fled the scene.
The vehicle swerved right and left and then flipped three times. Gail Fejes died at the scene. Her son was rushed to the hospital where he was listed in critical but stable condition.
Traffic Lt. Nancy Reeder said that in the days following the crash, the boy told officers that another vehicle, a silver truck, was involved. But the information did investigators little good at the time, she said.
"There's so many vehicles out there that match that description," she said.
A few months later, some tips about the case came in through Crime Stoppers that corroborated the boy's story and helped lead investigators to Elkins, Reeder said.
Police first interviewed Elkins last winter. Reeder said Elkins acknowledged taking some aggressive action toward Fejes "based on something he perceived she had done to him."
Prosecutor Marcy McDannel said Elkins told officers he cut Fejes off and then "brake-checked" her. Fejes was essentially left with the choice to rear-end him or take evasive action, she said.
"He describes this as mutual road rage," McDannel said. "The child does not."
Elkins' history of traffic violations includes leaving the scene of an accident in 2000, for which he pleaded no contest and had his driver's license revoked for 30 days.
Other violations on his record between 1998 and 2004 include seven speeding tickets and two citations for driving without a valid operator's license, as well as citations for safety restraints, tinted windows, vehicle registration or license, failure to obey a traffic device, and failure to yield at a right of way.
Elkins was also cited this summer for failing to stop at a red light and driving without insurance, court records show.
McDannel said Elkins' license has twice been suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles and he has also received five warnings from the DMV that he is about to lose his license. It does not appear his license was suspended at the time of the fatal accident last year, she said.