Man seriously burned in 3-day Fourth of July party in Seward

Posted: Monday, July 08, 2002

A Wasilla teen was seriously injured during a three-day party in Seward this weekend after accidentally lighting himself on fire.

Alaska State Troopers, Bear Creek Fire Department and the Seward Ambulance Corps responded to a report of a man on fire at the party at 1:12 a.m. Friday.

Jace Fesler, 18, of Wasilla, had been attempting to throw gasoline on a bonfire when the fuel ignited around him. He suffered second- and third-degree burns on his face, hands and leg.

After initial treatment at Providence Seward Hospital, Fesler was taken to Harborview Burn Center in Seattle, where he remains in critical condition, according to Seward trooper Jeff Ebanoff.

The accident was only one of many problems associated with the "Party on the Pond," which was held on private property near Preacher's Pond from Wednesday night to Saturday.

Though party-planner Brad Snowden had both a liquor license and security for the event, Ebanoff said the Fourth of July celebration quickly got out of control.

"Everyone there was underage and drinking -- about 99 percent of them," Ebanoff said. "With 2,000 kids and nine troopers, it's not a good combination.

"Basically, it was out of control."

According to police reports, trouble began early Thursday morning when troopers responded to multiple reports of disturbances at the party. Ronald Garzini, 22, of Seward was arrested for disorderly conduct and violating conditions of release. Kenneth Cassady, 35, of Kenai, was arrested for disorderly conduct and sixth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance. Both were taken to the Seward Community Jail.

Late Thursday night and early Friday morning, troopers arrested party-goers for drunk driving. Wayne B. Anasogak, 34, of Anchorage was arrested for driving while intoxicated and refusal to submit to a breath test. He was held on $1,000 bail at the jail.

Royce L. Tate, 31, of Anchorage, also was arrested for driving while intoxicated and was held on $500 bail at the Seward Community Jail.

At 2:18 a.m. Friday, troopers again responded to the party for a report of a fight. When troopers arrived, a Louisiana man reported that several persons at the gathering had rolled his vehicle onto its side, smashing out the windows. Damage was estimated at $3,000, but no witnesses to the fight or the car damage were located.

Friday afternoon, while party-goers slept, Ebanoff said troopers found a vehicle that was in an accident during the party. Colt M. Gregory, 19, of California, hit a log, eight inches in diameter, while driving in a thicket of trees. The log penetrated the grill, engine block, firewall, front seat and driver's door of the 2001 Ford pickup and narrowly missed Gregory's leg.

During investigation, troopers found marijuana in Gregory's possession, and he was charged with sixth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance.

The party continued Friday night and into Saturday morning. At 2:30 a.m. Saturday, troopers arrested Wendell J. Taylor, 29, of Anchorage, for fighting at the party. He was remanded to the Seward jail on disorderly conduct charges.

Because the party was on private property, Ebanoff said the property-owner took on some responsibility for the event.

However, Ebanoff said, the security for the party was insufficient.

"We were not expecting that many people and the security that was there was very minimal," he said.

If a similar event was to be held in the future, Ebanoff said private security would have to be increased.

And, he added, "I don't know that a liquor license will be signed next year."



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