Valdez doctor faces assault charge

Posted: Wednesday, January 17, 2001

VALDEZ (AP) -- A Valdez physician was temporarily banned from municipal ski trails and cited for misdemeanor assault after city officials said he struck a snowmachiner with his cross-country ski pole.

Dr. Andy Embick, 50, is accused of striking 17-year-old Ryan Stock after he discovered Stock driving a snowmachine over a ski-only trail in Valdez's Mineral Canyon on Dec. 23. A trial has been set for March.

According to the Valdez Star, Stock was riding with a group of snowmachiners on the trail system when he became separated from the group. His father, Ray Stock, said his son turned around and headed up the ski trail to join his friends.

At that point, he was confronted by Embick, who has had previous disputes with snowmachiners on trails.

According to Ray Stock, Embick yelled obscenities at his son, threatened him with his ski pole and struck him on the lower right arm.

Embick told the Anchorage Daily News that he skied in front of the snowmachine to stop Stock before he entered a narrow curve on the route back to town.

''I was doing something to try to prevent an accident,'' Embick told the Anchorage Daily News. ''I didn't know if anybody was on that blind hill and figured it was a clear danger and it was my duty to slow him down.''

Embick said he jumped out of the way to avoid getting run down and ''swatted'' Stock across the back with his carbon-fiber ski pole.

When Stock later sought medical attention for a sore arm, the on-call physician at the hospital was Embick. Ray Stock insisted that a different doctor be called to treat his son.

Stock was issued a citation for driving his machine in a closed area.

Embick said the latest confrontation culminated years of frustration with ''motorheads'' and their behavior on the trails.

''We need to get these guys under control,'' he said. ''Here the cops won't do it, and I don't want to have somebody killed, some harmless bystander who gets run over.''

Because of Embick's previous encounters on the trails, Valdez parks and recreation director Nancy Peterson banned Embick from the trails for two months for violating a local ''code of conduct'' against violence by people using city facilities.

''If you strike an individual, you're accountable for your actions,'' she said.

Embick, who is training for a ski marathon, ignored the ban. City police have so far issued him two trespassing tickets. After he was seen skiing again, he was issued a summons on Tuesday to appear in Valdez District Court on contempt, according to court officials.

Embick said he had not heard about the contempt summons but planned to go skiing anyway.

''I've got my boots on right now,'' he said. ''Heck, they could just Xerox the ticket and give me one every day, as far as I care. I'm not going to pay any attention to an improper order, and I refuse to be banned from the trail.''

Embick said he planned to take his case to Valdez City Council and argue that Peterson had no right to restrict him before the court determined whether he had done something wrong.

Peterson said it's no different than banning a youth for fighting on a basketball court or for vandalism. She said that city officials and police had been trying to work out trail conflicts, but Embick was part of the problem.

''We have very few complaints from other individuals,'' she said. ''It's the age-old problem where there is one or two people on both sides of the user groups who create the conflict for everyone. ... There are people in town who have admitted that they intentionally do the things that they do just to irritate Dr. Embick.''

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