ANCHORAGE - A man who escaped this summer from an Anchorage halfway house while serving time for a drunken driving conviction caused a head-on collision on the Parks Highway on Tuesday, killing a 5-year-old boy and seriously injuring the boy's mother, Alaska State Troopers said.
Floyd Mack, 5, was riding with his sister, Jeanette Seybert, 15, in a pickup driven by their mother, Linda Mack, 35, Anchorage.
Troopers said a 1968 Ford pickup truck driven by John Knauss, 41, was traveling east when it crossed the centerline near mile 42.5 and struck the left side of a 1985 Chevy pickup driven by Mack.
Following the impact, Mack's truck burst into flames, trapping all three people inside. Linda Mack and Seybert were pulled from the burning vehicle by passers-by. Troopers said Floyd Mack received fatal injuries in the crash.
Linda Mack was reported in critical condition Wednesday at Alaska Native Medical Center. Seybert was reported in good condition.
Mack suffered burns to her ears and underwent more than five hours of surgery to fix a broken arm and repair damage to her face, her father, Orin Seybert, told the Anchorage Daily News. He is the founder and owner of Peninsula Airways.
Knauss was reported in critical condition at Providence Alaska Medical Center. A half-empty bottle of alcohol was found in the cab of the pickup truck driven by Knauss, said trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson. Knauss will be arrested if he recovers from his injuries, Wilkinson said.
Knauss has a criminal record that dates back to 1989 and includes convictions for forgery, assault, negligent driving and drunken driving, according to a computer database of court records.
He was convicted of felony assault and drunken driving in 1999 after he smashed into a pickup driven by Joe Meixner, of Wasilla, at the intersection of the Parks Highway and Main Street in Wasilla.
Meixner said he suffered massive facial injuries and has permanent scars from the accident. He was surprised to hear Knauss had been involved in another accident.
"I thought he was in jail," he said.
Knauss was serving a three-year sentence for the accident with Meixner when he walked away from the Glenwood Center halfway house in Anchorage on July 10, said Bruce Richards, a state Department of Corrections spokesman. A warrant was issued for Knauss' arrest when he failed to return to the center after being let out on a pass, Richards said.