Anchorage families sue driver in deaths of teen pedestrians

Saturday, August 9, 2014, was the one-year anniversary of a tragic South Anchorage, Alaska, truck-pedestrian accident that caused the deaths of two 15-year-old girls walking home after school shopping at a mall. The fatal accident that shocked Anchorage residents has been widely covered by the media.

The Anchorage pedestrian accident

Reported best friends, Jordyn Durr and Brooke McPheters were walking home in the early evening at Abbott Road and 88th Avenue when they were hit by the pickup truck reported to have lost control on an Abbott Road curve and jumped the curb. After facing a grand jury, the driver faces Alaska state criminal charges of two counts each of second-degree murder and manslaughter, and of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Civil lawsuits

Significantly, the surviving families each filed civil lawsuits in Alaska Superior Court on May 30, 2014, for their daughters' wrongful deaths against the 32-year-old father of two who drove the red pickup that struck the high-school students. The plaintiffs also sued the man's former employer and another unnamed company.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, court records note that the defendant was at a company-sponsored social event at a golf course "several hours" before the crash; a police report says that the driver's blood-alcohol content or BAC after the incident was "more than three times the legal limit"; and a state of Alaska toxicology report states that marijuana was also found in the defendant's body.

The article states further that the complaints allege that the driver was served too much alcohol at the work event, which is why the employer is also a defendant. The employer has said publicly that the alcohol at the company event was not served by the employer, but by a "golf course contractor." The unnamed company defendant is alleged to have served alcohol to the driver between the work event and the accident.

Anchorage citizens await the outcomes of both the criminal trial and the two civil lawsuits that grew out of the drunk driving accident. Certainly a finding of guilt in the criminal matter would be important evidence in the civil trials.

Alaska pedestrian accident statistics

In August 2014, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities issued a report on 2010 Alaska traffic accidents, in which the agency says that three-quarters of the 2010 pedestrian accidents happened in the municipality of Anchorage, with just over 40 percent of the state population at that time.

ADOTPF also reports that 162 pedestrians were in crashes with motor vehicles statewide that year (52 of these pedestrian accidents involved alcohol or drugs), with five pedestrian fatalities (four of these involved alcohol or drugs). Almost 10 percent of all fatal crashes were single vehicles hitting pedestrians and almost 15 percent of fatal crashes involving alcohol or drugs were single vehicles hitting pedestrians and bikes.

(However, the agency does not distinguish in these statistics whether drivers, pedestrians or bicyclists were chemically impaired.)

Seek out an experienced Alaska personal injury attorney

Of course, Alaskans open themselves up to both criminal and civil liability when they get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. If you were involved in a pedestrian accident or other type of motor-vehicle crash with an impaired driver, be sure to discuss the situation with knowledgeable legal counsel to understand your legal rights and potential legal remedies. You may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit for money damages.

Likewise, if your loved one was killed in such an accident, speak with a skilled Alaska wrongful death lawyer about a potential wrongful death suit.

Keywords: Anchorage, Alaska, pedestrian accident, drunk driving, anniversary, wrongful death, truck, lawsuit, statistics