Wooden boards cover up damage made by a drunk driver at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018. The crash occurred July 31, police say. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Wooden boards cover up damage made by a drunk driver at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018. The crash occurred July 31, police say. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Drunk driver smashes into middle school

• Woman charged with drunken driving, child endangerment • $50K worth of damage to school is mostly cosmetic, maintenance supervisor says

The usual back-to-school preparations were going on at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School on Tuesday afternoon, as maintenance employees were cleaning the building and the front entrance.

On the front of the gym, there stood the sign of a much larger maintenance project — large pieces of wood covering the heavily damaged wall. At about 6 p.m. July 31, Juneau Police Department Lt. Krag Campbell said, 41-year-old Billie Kanouse crashed a red 2006 Jeep into the gym as Kanouse was dropping off a 10-year-old girl at the school.

Neither Kanouse nor the child suffered serious injuries, Campbell said, but police found that Kanouse’s breath-alcohol content was measured at 0.384 percent, more than four times the legal limit. Kanouse was arrested on charges of driving under the influence and endangering a child, and was indicted on Aug. 2, according to electronic court records.

Police did a ballpark estimate on site, Campbell said, and guessed that the damage could be up to $50,000. Curtis Blackwell, the maintenance supervisor for Juneau Public Schools, said it’s still too early to have an accurate estimate.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Blackwell said, his staff was trying to track down who the original contractor was for the building of the school in the early 1990s, and where the bricks came from. With the new school year starting Aug. 20, his staff is busy with projects all around the district and it’s difficult to find time to focus on this.

Blackwell said he can’t recall a car driving into a school in his 30 years with the district, and knows this will likely make a permanent difference at the school.

“We’ll be lucky if that ever looks normal again,” Blackwell said, “because the color of the bricks probably aren’t going to match.”

The important part, Blackwell said, is that the wall has been secured. DHMS students will still be able to safely go to gym class, he said.

The damages will mostly be cosmetic, Blackwell said, and from inside the gym the wall looks almost normal. JSD maintenance workers cut off the bent metal parts inside the wall and were able to install new gray panels to match the panels on the other areas of the wall in the gym.

That’s about where their role ended, he said, as he was going through names of contractors Tuesday to see who to consult.

“We’re going to be pursuing finding someone who can help us get that fixed,” Blackwell said. “It’s kind of outside our abilities here in the maintenance department. We don’t have any bricklayers or anything like that.”


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


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