Alaska State Troopers say a driver and his female passenger were arrested Wednesday afternoon after he struck another vehicle, almost causing it to hit a trooper conducting a traffic stop in Houston, then fled the scene.
A Thursday AST dispatch says the trooper was on foot beside the northbound lane at Mile 52 of the Parks Highway, just before 1 p.m. Wednesday. Willow man John Basler, 50, was passing the scene and slowed his 2013 Jeep Cherokee as he did so.
According to AST spokesperson Megan Peters, the driver behind Basler -- 23-year-old Bryan Hamersley of Willow -- reduced speed, but didn’t realize that Basler had also slowed down. Hamersley’s 1999 Jeep Cherokee rear-ended Basler’s vehicle, sending the two Jeeps careening off the road toward the trooper.
“He had to jump on top of the car, practically, to avoid being hit,” Peters said.
When Basler pulled over to exchange information on the collision, in which the vehicles suffered minor damage, troopers say Hamersley drove away. The trooper who was nearly struck briefly attempted to pursue Hamersley, but returned to the scene after relaying the Cherokee’s license-plate number and a brief description of Hamersley to other troopers.
“Road conditions were really bad, so he called it,” Peters said.
It didn’t take long for AST to track Hamersley down, finding him shortly after 2 p.m. at a Nichols Drive residence in Houston. Both Hamersley and his passenger were arrested at the scene.
“Investigation revealed Hamersley's passenger, 20-year-old Kerstynrenee Lanz of Houston, had a $2,000 outstanding felony arrest warrant for failure to appear on the original charges of misconduct involving a controlled substance, theft, and trespassing,” troopers wrote in the dispatch. “Lanz was arrested on the warrant.”
Hamersley has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident and failing to stop at the direction of a peace officer, as well as hindering prosecution due to the outstanding warrant against Lanz. Hamersley and Lanz were both remanded to the Mat-Su Pretrial Facility.
Peters says the incident highlights the need for drivers to slow down and pay attention in the vicinity of stopped emergency vehicles, particularly with snowy roads increasing stopping distances.
“And that’s precisely why we need people to slow down when they see flashing lights -- we only have so many troopers,” Peters said.
Contact Chris Klint