The suspected drunken driver who police say caused a Seward Highway wreck that killed a man and critically injured a woman has a long history of driving under the influence cases in Alaska and beyond, prosecutors said Friday.
Anchorage resident Lori Phillips, 55, has been charged with four DUIs and convicted on three so far -- two from the Lower 48 and one from Alaska -- and was out on bail on the fourth charge when she apparently chose to slide behind the wheel after drinking once more, Chief Municipal Prosecutor Al Patterson said. Among the bail conditions of her most recent release was that she not drive and not drink alcohol.
"She wasn't supposed to drive at all," Patterson said. "She didn't have a driver's license, she was not supposed to be driving as a condition of her bail anyway."
Police say Phillips' SUV rammed head-on into a red Toyota sedan, killing its driver, who had not been named by Friday. The passenger in the Toyota, Anchorage resident Joyua Stovall, 29, remained hospitalized in critical condition with a fractured pelvis and other injuries from the collision at the south end of Potter Marsh at 5:50 p.m. Thursday. Police have described the injuries as "life-altering."
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"She will carry the result of this accident through her life," police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker said.
Phillips was treated for minor injuries and released from a hospital. No charges have yet been filed in the incident.
Police say Phillips showed up for a clipping at Hot Heads salon on Arctic Boulevard earlier Thursday afternoon and the salon staff called them.
"They realized that she had been consuming alcohol and they were concerned about her, so they called us," Parker said. "They realized that she was having some problems while she was there, but she got in her car and left."
Police got that report at 5:29 p.m. and put out a locate on the SUV. But they couldn't find it and had no more sightings of it until a state Department of Transportation worker at the Seward Highway weigh scales south of Potter Marsh saw it lumbering along.
David Parker, a commercial vehicle enforcement officer, said he saw the SUV come down the highway moving slowly and in the wrong lane before turning into the scales' driveway. The driver seemed to be having big problems, he said.
"They pulled in on the south end of the scale here and then backed up and run right into the ditch," Parker said. "She didn't get stuck, she just went into it and then backed up. And as she was going across, as I was trying to call (police), she run over one of my cones I have out here by the scale. By the time I got someone on the phone she was already on the north end of the scale and I was trying to get a license number of the vehicle."
The woman would speed up and then slow down, and when she got to the north end of the driveway she just sat there for a while before driving back toward town, he said.
"It was like she was lost or something, didn't know which way that she wanted to go," Parker said.
Police logged Parker's call at 5:49 p.m. One minute and just about a half-mile later, Phillips' SUV, having crossed the center line, crashed head-on into the Toyota just north of the Old Seward Highway intersection, police said. The crumpled sedan was knocked off the pavement and into the frozen marsh below.
"A truck driver come in and told me right after I had made the call to an APD dispatcher that there was an accident and I knew in my heart it was this person that was in my parking lot here," Parker said.
The man driving the Toyota died on the scene and Stovall was extricated from the wreckage.
Phillips was on probation from a 2005 conviction for driving under the influence and eluding police when she was again arrested in March for driving under the influence, according to court records. That case is pending, though court records indicate she was set to make a change of plea next month. Not anymore, Patterson said.
"There was an offer out at one time, and I immediately called (Friday) morning and canceled and then revoked that offer," Patterson said. "I sure as heck didn't want to get that accepted at this point, because the whole ballgame's changed now."
If she ends up facing her fifth DUI, she could be charged with assault, manslaughter or murder, according to prosecutors.
Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.