A hit-and-run accident left a taxi and a sign crumpled at the intersection of Willow and Main Street Loop in Kenai on Friday.
Photo by Patrice Kohl
A drunk driving tour of Kenai turned into a hit-and-run Friday morning after two women collided with a taxi cab then hid in a parking lot about a block north of the scene.
“It was a rather unusual situation,” said Kenai Police Officer Casey Hershberger.
Kenai police received a report of a vehicle in the ditch near the intersection of Willow Street and Main Street Loop at 9:49 a.m. The officers thought they were responding to a single-vehicle accident until they reached the scene.
“There were vehicle parts and pieces at the intersection,” said Hershberger, who was the first officer to arrive.
At the scene, Hershberger also found a maroon Inlet Taxi cab in a ditch, its front end crumpled against an Alaska USA Federal Credit Union signpost.
The taxi’s driver, Robert Roper, 81, of Kenai, was not injured. Roper told officers he had been driving north on Willow Street toward the airport and through the intersection when he was hit by a blue vehicle, but Roper could not tell officers which direction the blue vehicle fled.
“That guy ran this stop sign, hit me and I came over here,” Roper said as he carried some belongings from the smashed taxi approximately a half hour later.
Officers also spoke to two independent witnesses of the accident.
They told officers a blue car driving east on Main Street Loop blew past a stop sign and T-boned the taxi. The taxi veered into the ditch and the credit union sign, and the blue car paused in the intersection. As Roper started to exit the taxi, the blue car accelerated and fled north on Willow Street, they told police.
One of the two witnesses wrote what he said he believed to be the vehicle’s license plate numbers on a napkin and offered it to Hershberger, who then pursued the vehicle.
His search didn’t last long.
A little more than a block from the scene, in a parking lot on Granite Point Street, Hershberger found a 1999 Pontiac Grand AM and two occupants, both of whom were later found to be intoxicated.
The driver of the vehicle was identified as Tracy R. Arrow, 19, of Shageluk, who told Hershberger she left the scene of the accident because she panicked.
“They’re not from the area, I don’t think they knew where they were going,” Hershberger said.
The passenger was lying in the backseat and did not appear to have suffered any injuries from the accident, he said. But due to her level of intoxication, emergency responders decided to take her to Central Peninsula General Hospital.
“She had basically had a lot, a lot to drink and it was a welfare concern,” Hershberger said. “Her level of intoxication was so high, she couldn’t communicate at all.”
He said the department could not yet release identifying information about the passenger.
However, he said the Pontiac did not belong to either Arrow or the passenger. He said it belonged to a person the women had known for only a few hours, and they had used it without permission.
The owner drove the women to Kenai from Anchorage, he said. The girls allegedly took the car when owner made a stop and left them alone in it.
Arrow was arrested for first-degree vehicle theft, driving while under the influence, reckless endangerment, driving in violation of an instructional permit and leaving the scene of a motor-vehicle collision.
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