The driver of a pickup truck crashed into a Kusko Cab, injuring everyone involved on Tuesday. The truck driver, Jerry David, age 53, of Bethel has been arrested and charged with a DUI and four counts of assault in the third degree.
A driver and two passengers were in the cab; a driver and one passenger in the pickup truck. Everyone involved except the truck driver was in their early to late 20s.
Bethel Police Officer Scott Kzittem responded to the scene just before 7 p.m. on Tuesday. The two damaged vehicles were stopped on the right side of Tower Road near Everts Air Cargo on a curve.
“On the other side there were cars lined up. There were people everywhere,” Officer Kzittem said.
A cab passenger was administering first aid to another cab passenger lying conscious with a head wound on the roadside.
“He was assisting by supporting her head and managing the bleeding before medics arrived,” Officer Kzittem described.
Another cab passenger was tending to the cab driver, who was still inside his vehicle. The truck passenger Officer Kzittem described as “extremely shooken up.” Meanwhile, the truck driver was standing beside his pickup.
“I had people yelling, ‘He’s the driver. He’s drunk,'" Officer Kzittem said. "So it was a little chaotic there at the beginning.”
Multiple people identifying themselves as doctors or EMTs began tending to the victims. Another bystander began directing traffic. An ambulance quickly arrived and transported the injured to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation Emergency Room.
Onlookers told Officer Kzittem that the pickup had been driving 45 to 60 miles per hour around a curve when the collision with the loaded cab occurred.
“The front of the vehicle on the pickup struck the driver’s side front fender at an angle,” Officer Kzittem said.
Police did not know the extent of the injuries of the people involved, but could say that no one was flown to Anchorage for more advanced medical care. The truck driver admitted to consuming alcohol, and a blood sample has been sent to the Anchorage Crime Lab for a toxicology test. The driver’s blood alcohol level could not be measured through a breathalyzer test in Bethel because of his injuries.
The cab has been transported to the police station as evidence. As of Wednesday morning, the truck remained at the crash site, off the roadway, expected to be towed later.