UPDATE: Joyce Scott was located and is safe.
ORIGINAL STORY: Police are asking for help finding an elderly woman last seen Friday afternoon.
84-year-old Joyce Scott was last seen at 6 p.m. on May 22 near Dearmoun Road and Seward Highway.
Scott is 5-foot-1, 100 pounds, and was last seen wearing a pink short sleeve shirt and blue jeans, according to the Anchorage Police Department.
She drives a gold Chevy Malibu with Alaska license GWH805.
Scott was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, and she sometimes cannot recall where her home is located, police wrote in a news release.
Anyone who sees Scott or her car is asked to call police at 907-786-8900.
Anchorage police are looking for a man who stole a truck towing a Jet Ski, leading officers on a chase before a crash in Midtown early Friday.
APD spokeswoman Renee Oistad said the suspect in the chase, which ended when the vehicle crashed into a sign on a median near Fireweed Lane’s intersection with Arctic Boulevard, isn’t yet in custody.
According to APD Sgt. Todd Kearns, one of the officers at the scene, the incident began shortly before midnight Friday when the suspect -- described as a white man standing 5 feet, 8 inches tall with a goatee, black jacket and blue jeans -- took the Jet Ski from an industrial area off Dimond Boulevard.
After receiving a witness report that the suspect was headed north on the Old Seward Highway from Dimond Boulevard, police caught up with him at International Airport Road and C Street. Oistad said police tried to make a traffic stop on the driver, who instead briefly led a hot pursuit by APD officers.
“Our caller was following, so we were able to get good updates,” Oistad said. “It was (a chase), until the guy started blowing red lights.”
Kearns said the public-safety concerns raised by the chase caused officers to hang back until the truck crashed.
“Still traveling northbound at a high rate of speed, they decided to end the pursuit and turn off their lights and sirens,” Kearns said. “Basically he continued northbound, where he came to rest here on the median.”
A Channel 2 photographer who visited the scene saw a blue pickup truck straddling a median on the north side of the intersection, with several APD officers in the area.
The driver ran west from the truck on Fireweed, Kearns said. According to Oistad, officers formed a perimeter in the area and brought in a K-9 unit for a search, which ended unsuccessfully at about 12:30 a.m. Friday.
Oistad said that while investigators haven’t publicly identified the driver, there are leads on his identity.
“They have an idea who it is,” Oistad said. “They are not ready to release the name yet, but they are looking for someone in particular.”
Anyone with information on the suspect’s whereabouts should call APD at 786-8900.
Channel 2's David Brooks, Missy Regier and Marc Siciliano contributed information to this story.
The dust is finally settling as the legislature wrapped up the first full day of the second special session.
A dramatic week that saw Gov. Bill Walker veto the original operating budget before lawmakers adjourned from the first special session, wrapped up Friday with members of the public weighing in.
"You have to keep these kids educated, and you're just fighting like a bunch of kids yourselves,” said Bill Warren of Nikiski.
Warren was among nearly 80 people who testified before the House Finance Committee. Some of them called in from around the state, while others showed up in person.
"I am the mother of two sons, which had an education through Alaska Public Schools. I know the importance of funding public education,” Mary Schallert told the committee.
Education funding, the lack of staffing at the Office of Children Services and passing Erin’s Law were some of the major areas of concern for those who gave the maximum two minutes of testimony allowed by the committee.
"I really feel like there is a lot of emotional testimony going on. People are real concerned and they have a right to be. We have some big issues that we're facing, with our lack of revenue,” said Rep. Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks.
Thompson, who chairs the House Finance Committee, is tasked with deciding how much money should be put back into a budget that was vetoed by Governor Bill Walker last Monday. Walker rejected most of the $5.1 billion budget the legislature passed on April 27 because it doesn’t fully fund state government.
The governor left less than $2 billion for essential services and ordered lawmakers to start over.
The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to hear the budget Monday.
A coffee and lunchtime spot that operates out of a refurbished conex and opened just over a year ago at the edge of Downtown is pushing for a liquor license, required to serve beer and wine.
The effort by AK Alchemist -- which started as a coffee stand and quickly began serving food like burgers, quesadillas, and halibut tacos -- is met with plenty of opposition.
There is barstool seating inside of the conex, and picnic tables for customers in the gravel lot at Fourth Avenue and A Street.
"I think it's really important that we progress as a community," said owner Adam Blomfield. "We want to bring the Downtown east more for the tourists."
While the conex is not on wheels, it operates under a mobile food vendor permit. AK Alchemist is the first such business to apply for a license to serve beer and wine, Blomfield said.
The Anchorage Assembly is scheduled to hold public testimony on the issue at its Tuesday night meeting.
Assembly Chair Dick Traini said the idea of approving the license draws many concerns.
"It's still not a brick-and-mortar building, and so we're not sure if we want alcohol to be served that way in this town," Traini said.
Part of the problem is whether that would set a precedent with broader impacts later.
"If you tell them yes, how can you tell someone that has a hand cart hotdog stand no?" Traini said.
The Blomfields said they want the license to serve beer and wine to be contingent on some strict parameters such as a smaller window during their hours of operation on when they can serve alcohol, and the requirement that alcohol is only served with food.
The drive-up window would be solely designated for coffee and food, and the sectioned off patio is where alcohol would be served. The business also plans to increase its staff.
"We're willing to work with the assembly and go through some changes and make sure that we don't open the flood gates," Blomfield said. "This is a very common concept in cities all across the U.S. and all across the world."
Gov. Bill Walker has issued his second disaster declaration in two months for water on the Dalton Highway, during a visit to Deadhorse to inspect damage caused by continued flooding from the Sagavanirktok River.
A statement from Walker’s office said that Walker had joined a Unified Incident Command briefing for responders to the flooding, which has closed an 80-mile stretch of the highway, as he wrapped up a three-day tour of oil production facilities and the North Slope Borough. Details on his proclamation, which will cover the entire borough as well as the highway, weren’t immediately available Friday.
“I applaud the employees of the Alaska Department of Transportation and all the members of the UIC team for working together to address the flooding as quickly as possible,” Walker said in a Friday statement on the tour and the pending disaster declaration. “I have reassured (Transportation) Commissioner Marc Luiken and DOT officials in Prudhoe Bay that I will do whatever is necessary to find a solution to this problem.”
Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spokeswoman Meadow Bailey said Friday that the Dalton will remain closed until at least next week. While sporadic flooding is reported from Mile 334.5 of the highway, where the closure is in effect, water from the river -- also called the Sag River -- is more concentrated closer to Deadhorse, where the official closure ends at Mile 413.
“From Mile 391 to 414 into Deadhorse, that’s the stretch where it’s primarily under water,” Bailey said. “It’s about 2 feet of water that’s going over the road.”
Bailey said Friday morning that water levels along the wider flooded area of the highway vary widely, due to the extent of the flooding.
“It’s really hard to put a number on, because it’s different all over the place,” Bailey said. “It’s spread over a very wide area and it’s eroding the road beneath it.”
The Dalton saw a series of closures in April due to overflow from the river, with truck drivers living out of vehicles stranded in Deadhorse and hundreds of truckloads of supplies waiting in Fairbanks for the road to clear. Gov. Bill Walker declared the highway's first disaster due to the flooding, with subsequent floods spreading road crews’ work over at least two weeks.
While the Sag River’s breakup usually takes about a month, Bailey said that record rainfall in 2014 had saturated the ground. That downpour has magnified the effect of unusually high spring temperatures, which have led to a “very condensed” breakup season on the river north of the Brooks Range.
“The rapid melting of the snow and ice has a greater impact this year because of the ice overflow that occurred in April,” Bailey wrote in a Friday statement on the flooding. “There is a large amount of ice remaining in the channels of the Sag River; this ice reduces the channel capacity, causing the water to flood.”
One success story for responders has been the Deadhorse Airport, which was briefly affected by flooding but remains open for flights at all hours.
“High water yesterday briefly impacted navigational aids, so (state) crews cut breaches across the access road and Milepost 413 of the highway as an outlet for the water,” Bailey wrote. “The breaches were very successful, water dropped within hours and navigational aids were turned back on.”
A number of DOTPF workers and contractors are on standby in Deadhorse, waiting until waters recede from the highway to assess and repair any damage. Bailey said forecasters expect flooding conditions to prevail for at least the next few days.
With limited hydrology data available for the region, Bailey said that observations being made during this season’s flooding will be reflected in future work on the highway.
“That would be things like making the grade of the road higher, which ironically we were planning on going in and doing this summer,” Bailey said.
According to Bailey, the sequence of events which caused this year’s flooding on the Dalton has been unprecedented in DOTPF’s experience.
“It’s just a lot of really unique factors that combined to make a unique situation,” Bailey said. “We’ve never seen anything like this.”
A mother is pleading not guilty to allegations that she physically and verbally assaulted her 15-month-old daughter during an Alaska Airlines flight from Anchorage, Alaska, to Honolulu.
A criminal complaint says Samantha Leialoha Watanabe cursed at the toddler, smacked her in the back of the head, pinched her and pulled out bits of her hair during the May 3 flight. A passenger told the FBI Watanabe stuck a wad of cash in the girl's diaper.
Watanabe didn't say anything during her arraignment Friday in federal court in Honolulu. Her federal defender, Alexander Silvert, declined to comment after the hearing.
A judge says Watanabe must enter a residential drug treatment program when space becomes available. Trial is scheduled for July.
If convicted, the Hawaii resident faces up to a year in jail.
Alaska State Troopers are asking for public help to find and reunite a stolen dog with its owner, in a case reported last week from Anchor Point.
According to a Friday AST dispatch, troopers were informed at about 1 p.m. on May 14 that the dog had been taken from a residence on East End Road in the Sterling Highway community near Homer.
“The complainant reported the driver of a silver sedan pulled into the driveway and opened a passenger door,” troopers wrote. “The complainant's dog, a 130-pound white Great Pyrenees named Zeus, had jumped into the car. The driver shut the door and drove away.”
AST spokeswoman Megan Peters had few details about the case Friday afternoon, including whether the driver knew the dog or whether any disputes involving the dog may have been a factor.
“There is no suspect at this time,” Peters wrote in an email to Channel 2.
Anyone with information on Zeus’s whereabouts should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-478-HALT.
Anchorage police say a male bicyclist suffered a contusion in a Midtown collision with a vehicle Friday afternoon near Valley of the Moon Park.
APD spokeswoman Renee Oistad said officers were responding to the collision at Arctic Boulevard’s intersection with 19th Avenue, which was reported at about 12:30 p.m.
A Channel 2 photographer who visited the scene saw a heavy police and medical presence arrayed around a black pickup truck.
The bicyclist was reportedly bleeding from head wounds, but Oistad said Friday afternoon that his injuries weren't life-threatening.
"He had a bleeding contusion to the back of his head," Oistad wrote in an email to Channel 2. "He’s just getting it checked out."
Channel 2’s David Brooks contributed information to this story.
Alaska’s congressional delegation is hailing a Pentagon decision which could place a nearly $1 billion radar system on the Last Frontier, in an echo of similar installations during the days of the Cold War.
According to a Friday statement from Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, along with Rep. Don Young, the Missile Defense Agency is considering a proposal to house the $940 million Long Range Discrimination Radar at Clear Air Force Station in Anderson. According to an MDA statement, the facility has been "tentatively identified as the preferred location for the LRDR," pending an environmental impact analysis.
Dozens of missile interceptors are already hosted at Fort Greely -- one of two interceptor launch sites, along with Vandenberg Air Force Base in California -- as part of the missile-defense system, which is meant to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles launched at North America.
“(The system) will utilize cutting-edge and proven 21st-century technology to identify and track airborne missile threats against the United States,” delegation officials wrote in a Friday statement announcing the proposal. “The construction work, estimated to be completed by 2020, can begin once an environmental impact study is conducted and the current design phase completed.”
In the statement, Murkowski praised the importance the Missile Defense Agency’s director, Navy Vice Admiral James D. Syring, had placed on the radar system and its placement for completion by 2020.
“$50 million has already been allocated for the MDA to do design work on this critical project, but now that the location has been decided they can begin to plan out in more detail this major Alaskan investment for our national defense,” Murkowski said.
Sullivan emphasized the project’s strategic as well as economic benefits.
“Not only will this project -- the very first of its kind -- greatly improve the combat effectiveness of our nation’s missile defense system, but it will also bring hundreds of millions of dollars to Interior Alaska,” Sullivan said. “Alaska has become the cornerstone of our nation’s missile defense, significantly benefiting both our state and our country.”
Young mentioned the specific rogue nations which the missile-defense system is intended to protect against nuclear attacks from.
“With growing threats from both North Korea and Iran, it’s critical that this radar system be positioned in an area that covers both these nations; Clear Air Force Station offers that location,” Young said. “I’ve proudly worked with my colleagues in Congress to secure funding and authorization for this essential project, and look forward to seeing its competition in the coming years.”
The new military radar wouldn’t be the first such system Alaska has seen. For roughly 30 years, Alaska and Canada hosted numerous radar stations as part of the 1950s-era Distant Early Warning line, in an effort to detect and track incoming Soviet bombers.
Anchorage police say Muldoon Road will be closed between Debarr Road and the south side of Creekside Center Drive beginning 7 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Tuesday.
The closure is meant to allow for construction of the Chester Creek realignment and installation of a culvert beneath Muldoon Road, according to a police statement:
"Lane restrictions for southbound traffic on Muldoon Road will be in effect on Friday, prior to the closure. Detour signs will be posted to redirect traffic. To avoid delays motorists should seek alternate routes to the Glenn Highway."
An official with Washington state's Department of Natural Resources says Seattle activists protesting Shell's plans to drill for oil in the Arctic did some environmental damage to a popular dive park.
KIRO radio reports people left behind material they used to anchor their protest barge while kayakers protested last weekend near the Shell oil rig in Elliott Bay.
The barge known as "The People's Platform" was parked over the dive park near Seacrest Park. Department of Natural Resources spokesman Joe Smillie says divers found cement blocks, cables and chains used to anchor the barge.
He says the damage was minimal and no one will be fined. But the protesters will have to pay for the cleanup, and their barge is being relocated.
The dive park is a popular location because it's an octopus habitat.
An Anchorage Jail inmate who reported difficulty breathing Thursday evening died at an Anchorage hospital about an hour later, according to the state Department of Corrections.
DOC spokeswoman Sherrie Daigle said in a Friday statement that 26-year-old Alexis Hathaway had been booked into the jail Wednesday night on a felony DUI charge. He began to experience problems at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, prompting jail staff to call emergency medical services.
“EMS responded and Hathaway was transported to an Anchorage hospital,” Daigle wrote. “Hathaway was pronounced deceased on (Thursday) at 10:42 p.m.”
Daigle said Friday that there were no reports of any altercations involving Hathaway during his roughly one-day stay at the jail. There wasn’t any immediate word on whether Hathaway had had existing medical conditions at the time of his booking, but Daigle said his body was being sent to the state medical examiner’s office.
“We won’t know anything for sure until they conduct an autopsy,” Daigle said.
Hathaway’s next of kin have been notified, and the Alaska State Troopers will also investigate his death.
A 27-year-old Kodiak man has pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide after running over a homeless man in 2008 and leaving him to die.
KMXT reports Bradford Blondin entered his plea Tuesday in exchange for a recommended 10-year sentence with six years suspended. Sentencing was set for Aug. 27.
His plea came in the April 29, 2008, death of 43-year-old Justin McGriff, a dishwasher who was living in tent outside town.
He was last seen being dropped by a cab at the base of Pillar Mountain Road, where he was later run over. The coroner said he likely would have survived his injuries had he received care.
Blondin's truck was quickly seized by police but he wasn't charged for four years, partially because of a backlog at the state crime lab.
On a sunny Thursday in Wasilla, Logan Snyder was skipping along Fish Creek when he noticed a moose calf struggling in the water. Here's how he tells the story:
"This little guy was swimming for all he was worth when I came around a bend of the slough today."
"Only his nose was above water, and he couldn't get out of the river due to the cut banks."
"I idled up next to him and scooped him up. He laid in my boat shaking and coughing water up for five minutes or so till he could stand again."
"I then got him up on dry land and he found his mother, who was about 200 feet away in the trees the whole time. Super cool experience!"
"The last picture is him back up on land after it all."
(Photos courtesy Logan Snyder)
Channel 2's Garrett Turner caught up with AFD graduate Luke Duffy and his family to see why joining the Anchorage Fire Department means so much to the family.
Eielson Air Force Base will be testing private wells in the Moose Creek area for groundwater contamination.
The Daily News-Miner reports the Eielson-based 354th Fighter Wing notified 300 Moose Creek households Thursday about the Air Force's plan to sample the drinking wells.
The decision comes after a move in January to change the source of drinking water on base due to contamination from perfluorinated compounds, often known as PFCs.
A representative from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation says that contamination is now believed to extend to the north of the base. He says it is likely that the contaminated groundwater extends beyond base, but it hasn't been shown yet.
The health advisory level is considered provisional. Long-term studies on harm to humans from PFCs are still in preliminary stages.
A T-bone collision at an Anchorage intersection Friday morning knocked one of the vehicles onto its side, but Anchorage police say no road closures have been reported.
APD dispatchers said medics responded to the crash, reported shortly after 7 a.m. at 11th Avenue’s intersection with A Street. There weren’t any reports of significant injuries.
Officer Rick Dykstra at the scene said a Dodge truck coming off 11th collided with a bigger Dodge truck. The collision also knocked down a state-owned light pole, which remained at the scene until state crews arrived to clear it.
Dispatchers said individual lanes of 11th or A may be closed as tow trucks respond.
Channel 2’s George Ilutsik contributed information to this story.
Alaska State Troopers say a cache of explosives found in the Eureka area Wednesday was safely disposed of by FBI specialists.
Troopers said in a Thursday dispatch that they arrived at Tyone Creek at about 3 p.m. Wednesday, in response to the discovery of materials including “found explosives consisting of dynamite, det cord, and blasting caps.”
AST spokeswoman Megan Peters said in an email to Channel 2 that the items found at the site appeared to be meant for mining use. She didn’t have details on how old the explosives were, or how much material was present.
“It was a mining claim site,” Peters wrote. “A new person went to the claim and was concerned when he found the explosives. They appeared to be sweating (nitroglycerin).”
Troopers’ Helo-2 flew an FBI explosive ordnance disposal team to the site, where they were able to dispose of the explosives.
FBI spokeswoman Staci Feger-Pellessier said the EOD team made two visits to the site Wednesday and Thursday.
"There was a couple of pounds of unstable, old dynamite (about five or six sticks) inside of a trailer," Feger-Pellessier wrote in an email. "Our bomb techs determined it couldn’t be safely removed -- so they had to counter-charge it in place. They blew it up."
Police believe the deaths of a family of four found in a South Anchorage residence last week were a murder-suicide, apparently committed by a man convicted of domestic-violence assault.
APD spokeswoman Anita Shell said in a Thursday statement that the bodies of 24-year-old Curtis Young III, 27-year-old Desiree Gonzalez and their two children -- 4-year-old Zaiden and 18-month-old Zairelle Young -- have all undergone autopsies at the state medical examiner’s office. The four were found dead with gunshot wounds in a home on the 500 block of East 74th Avenue on May 13.
“While the investigation is still ongoing, with lab results pending, the evidence supports the theory that this was a contained scene and that this was a murder-suicide,” Shell wrote. “At this point in the investigation, all indications are that Curtis Young III shot and killed his girlfriend and their children before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life.”
Detective Sgt. Mike Couturier had said at a press conference following the deaths that officers weren’t seeking any additional suspects in the shootings, which he described as "an isolated domestic violence-related incident." Court records for Young indicated that he had pleaded no contest to and been convicted of a 2010 domestic-violence assault against his girlfriend, identified in documents only as “D.G.,” after he put a knee on her chest and hit her with an empty soda can.
Shell said Thursday that police haven’t found any indication of a specific motive for Young to shoot Gonzalez and the children. She said investigators couldn’t release anything further on incidents which may have led up to the shooting, but wanted to explain their theory of what happened.
“We just wanted to dispel any rumors,” Shell said. “The family’s been told that we’re almost 100 percent positive that he’s the shooter, but we wanted to put that out for the public as well.”
APD’s investigation remains open, and police will release any further information if the facts of the case change.
Recent statistics from the Anchorage Police Department reveal an increase in robberies this month, compared to the past two Aprils.
However, according to the department the data does not represent a long enough time frame to be labeled a full-blown trend.
In April 2015, police report 55 robberies, There were 40 in April 2014, and 30 in April 2013.
"The first rule of statistics is that they're erratic, and hard to compare year after year," Sgt. Mike Couturier said.
The rise is partially due to efforts of local stores that are trying to prevent theft, he said.
What may start out as theft turns into a robbery if the shoplifter is confronted by an employee and resists being stopped. Technically, that's a robbery, said Couturier.
"As we refine our attempts to modify their (stores') behavior in how they try to keep merchandise for walking out the door, that can certainly affect our statistics, and I think it has," he said.
An increase in drug and alcohol abuse can contribute to a spike in robberies, but Couturier said it is unclear if that is the case. In most robbery cases, the victim knows the suspect, the sergeant said.
Anchorage police responded to two robberies on Wednesday. Police say a man was shot in the jaw when three armed men forced their way into his Reka Drive apartment late that night.
Earlier in the day, Miguel Julio Batista, 27, was arrested for allegedly robbing Party Time Liquor Store with a stolen assault rifle.
According to charging documents, Batista told arresting officers that he expected to be dead and that "his intention with the gun was to have the police kill him."