Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, December 29, 2005

Snowmobile driver charged in man's death

CIRCLE - A Circle man died after he was hit by a snowmobile and Alaska State Troopers say manslaughter charges against the driver have been forwarded to the district attorney's office.

Troopers said Richard Crow, 42, on Christmas Eve was lying on the Steese Highway near Circle. He was struck by a snowmobile driven by Jack Boyle Jr., 29.

Troopers said Boyle was driving north when he saw Crow on the icy road.

"He was unable to stop or slow or avoid the collision," said trooper spokesman Tim DeSpain.

He struck Crow's upper body.

Troopers said Boyle told them he knew the snowmobile's brakes were out. He was driving at least 50 mph on a road with a 30 mph speed limit, troopers said.

Snowmobiles are not allowed on the Steese Highway.

People who said they were with both men that day told them the two had been drinking, troopers said.

Boyle was arrested Sunday on an outstanding warrant for vehicle theft and assault, troopers said. He remained jailed Wednesday at Fairbanks Correctional Center.

Circle, population 100, is on the south bank of the Yukon River, 160 miles northeast of Fairbanks. It is at the east end of the Steese Highway.

"It's more than likely they knew each other quite well," DeSpain said of the two men.

Thieves steal 16 Christmas wreaths

ANCHORAGE - Thieves stole the holiday cheer for a woman near Wasilla.

On Christmas Eve, someone took 16 handmade garland Christmas wreaths that Susan Swanner has used to decorate her property.

"I could see one or two disappearing," Swanner said, "but sixteen?"

As she has for the last three Decembers, Swanner decorated her property with the wreaths. They were mounted on trees and a fence.

"I built the frames from willows on the property and wrapped the garland around them by hand," she said. "It took me about a week to make them all."

Sometime Friday night or Saturday morning, Swanner said, the wreaths were stolen from their mounts.

There had been suspicious activity on the street earlier, Swanner said. A neighbor thought he had seen teenagers throwing rocks at his car. Swanner saw a man jump in a pickup truck near her property Friday night as she put salt on her driveway.

She didn't notice the wreaths missing until she and her husband went out to put up lights on Christmas Eve.

She also found that the thieves had torn down a wooden address plaque from a tree at the end of their driveway, throwing it into the woods.

That act, Swanner said, was not just mean-spirited but dangerous.

Her husband's 91-year-old father lives with the couple. Swanner feared emergency crews might be unable to find the property if he needed an ambulance.

Dikes aim to protect property on Matanuska

ANCHORAGE - A contractor is finishing repairs to four dikes into the Matanuska River, part of the protection planned for nearby property owners when the river rises next summer.

The dikes, along with a fifth dike expected to be built in the spring, are property owners' best hope of reducing erosion.

It's not a silver bullet, said Matanuska-Susitna Borough manager John Duffy.

"The fifth dike is going to help the Circle View and Stampede Estates subdivisions," Duffy said. "But it will provide little protection for the area below."

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