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Hit-and-run trial that cost Minnesota man his leg begins

By Charlo Greene 7:17 PM April 8, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

Zachary Mohs was found laying near the intersection of Arctic Boulevard and Tudor Road on Sept. 20, 2012, barely responsive with one of his limbs laying nearly 30 feet away form his body, according to police reports.

There is no question that Luke Jerde was driving the car that hit Mohs, but whether an accident or crime occurred is what is being argued in court.

A 911 call played through courtroom speakers Tuesday morning just after opening statements were heard:

“We’ve got a man in the street at the corner of Arctic and Tudor. Looks like he lost his leg; I think he’s dead.”

That frantic 911 call was made by Lauren Nelson, who was driving near the scene of the collision just moments after defendant Jerde is accused of running down Mohs and fleeing the scene.

“The defendant didn’t stop and render aid at that point in time. He didn’t call 911,” prosecuting attorney John Darnall told jurors. “The evidence will show that he went through the intersection and took another chance. A chance that he would get away with this conduct.”

World War II veteran Ken Krasselt administered first aid on the scene.

“I knew if things moved quickly that he’d make it. I just felt it,” Krasselt testified.

Krasselt told the courtroom that when he rushed over to help Mohs, Jerde and his vehicle were nowhere in sight.

When the prosecuting attorney asked Krasselt if he noticed any of Mohs’ injuries, Krasselt paused for several seconds before describing what he had seen.

Krasselt told jurors that he found Mohs face down and unresponsive, aside from a brief moment where he appeared to move his torso, which Krasselt said signaled Mohs had a fighting chance. Krasselt said he didn’t initially notice that Mohs’ left foot had been severed and was laying nearly 30 feet away from his body.

The prosecution called Jerde’s actions and inaction that night reckless.

The defense, however, claims the collision was an accident that was caused by the victim’s own actions.

“Once he stepped off that curb, there was no reaction time to avoid him. That’s what this will show. This was not about Mr. Jerde committing a crime, but this was about Mr. Mohs making a mistake,” said defense attorney Chong Yim.

Witness testimony is expected to continue through this week. Neither the prosecution nor the defense touched on why Mohs was in the street at the time of the incident.

Mohs is not expected to testify in this trial.

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