Driver of crashed car flees scene and injured passenger

The Juneau Police Department is investigating a possible DWI this weekend that left a passenger injured and the driver nowhere to be seen.

JPD received multiple calls at 1:04 a.m. Saturday from residents around 20 Mile Glacier Highway, near Randall Road, who heard a motor vehicle crash and somebody screaming, said Lt. Kris Sell.

When officers arrived on scene, Sell said a red 1999 Saturn was sitting in the middle of the road. It had been further out the road and was driving toward town.

“Its front bumper was ripped off, the passenger side tires were ripped off, the passenger side exterior panels were gone, there was debris all over the highway for a couple of hundred yards, and a fire hydrant was torn off its base,” Sell said in an interview Monday.

The passenger, a 20-year-old Juneau resident, was lying on the ground near the car with facial injuries and a decreased level of consciousness. Sell said he was transported to Bartlett Regional Hospital.

People on scene told officers the driver of the Saturn had left in another vehicle. Sell said paperwork in the Saturn was associated with a 19-year-old man.

Officers found the driver around 2 a.m. at a family residence on the 9100 block of Riverwood Drive. Sell said he was originally brought to Juneau Police Department but “given the severity of the crash and the high level of impact,” he was also transported to Bartlett by ambulance for precautionary reasons.

Sell said police are awaiting results back from blood tests, but believe alcohol was “definitely involved.” Pending charges on the driver include driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of a collision.

“The vehicle that crashed was traveling at — what we’re thinking based on the scene — a high rate of speed, and the driver lost control,” Sell said.

When it happened, several vehicles containing people in their late teens and early 20s had stopped in the street. Sell said they all seemed to know each other and were associated with the crashed car.

“This can be a dangerous time of year for young people. They think going out the road where nobody is around and drinking is going to be a lot of fun,” Sell said. “You can imagine what was happening in that car. They’re thinking they’re invincible, and it only takes a moment for everything to change.”

Sell said neither the driver nor the passenger had any life-threatening injuries. Aside from facial injuries, she said the passenger might have a broken ankle as a result of the crash. But Sell said it could’ve been a lot worse.

“Looking at the pictures I’ve seen of the car from the officers on scene, it is truly a notable development that they survived this crash.”

• Contact reporter Lisa Phu at 523-2246 or lisa.phu@juneauempire.com.

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