ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A Valdez man accused of driving over a woman on a Valdez sidewalk, killing her, reportedly stopped the vehicle while on top of her and continued driving, court documents reveal. Officers found him at his home almost an hour later. A police affidavit filed in court Tuesday laid out the timeline of what happened.
Meanwhile, the community of Valdez has come together to support the family of the victim, Chellsie Hoffman, through donations.
Ero Walli, 46, is charged with manslaughter, not aiding the injured, driving under the influence, and misconduct involving a weapon.
Hoffman, 31, was standing outside The Boardroom bar on Chitina Avenue at 2:30 a.m. Sunday waiting for other people in her group to come outside, witnesses told Valdez Police officers who arrived at the scene. A friend told police officers that they had been out for a girls’ night.
Then, “out of nowhere,” the truck peeled out of the parking lot. The friend says Hoffman tried to move around the truck from where she was on the sidewalk when the truck hit her and stopped. The friend said she screamed at Walli, who was driving, and threw her bag at the truck, when Walli drove the truck on top of Hoffman and stopped again, before driving away.
Responding police officers performed first aid until medics could take Hoffman to the hospital, where she died at 3:20 a.m.
Witnesses to the crash identified Walli by name to officers, and one even told officers he’d tried to stop Walli from driving because he was so intoxicated. Witnesses gave officers the license plate number and detailed description of the Dodge truck that struck Hoffman.
Officers went to Walli’s home, where they found the truck parked out front, its radiator still warm to the touch. It had what officers thought to be fresh scuff marks and scratches on the driver’s side of the hood, and fresh damage on the lower bumper. Three officers knocked on the doors and windows of the home, but got no response.
The document says that at 4:25 a.m., Walli finally answered the door, and initially told an officer that he had been home all night, had not been drinking alcohol, and had not been at the Boardroom. He also told the officers that he had not loaned his truck to anyone.
Walli then told the officers that he went to the Boardroom after work but had only drank a couple of beers and no hard alcohol, and that the last thing he had to drink was before midnight. A police sergeant administered three field sobriety tests to Walli, and then had him provide a breath sample, which showed a positive result for alcohol.
While officers were at Walli’s house, they were informed that Hoffman had died from her injuries, and Walli was arrested for DUI.
Once at the Valdez jail, a breath alcohol test taken at 5:15 a.m. showed a result of .305 – the legal limit to drive in Alaska is .08.
Officers got a warrant to search the truck later in the morning and found a loaded handgun with a round in the chamber. That tacked on an additional charge of misconduct involving a weapon because of Walli’s alleged intoxication behind the wheel.
Walli appeared in court in Valdez Tuesday. His next appearance, a preliminary hearing, is scheduled for April 18.
A coffee shop in Valdez donated all of its Monday sales to Hoffman’s family. Tuesday, Klondike Coffee said it had raised $10,570 for the family. On its Facebook page, the company said it is also keeping a donation box out for the family.