Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Driver Arrested in Easter Hit-and-Run Death (UPDATED WITH NEW VIDEO; CHARGING DOCUMENTS)
After eight months, woman arrested (UPDATED with charging documents)
(UPDATED) APD reports Ashley Bashore, the driver, was texting when she hit Mr. Tunuchuk. Wednesday, Bashore pleaded not guilty to criminally negligent homicide and two other related charges.
It has been eight months since Anchorage police say a hit-and-run driver killed a 28-year-old man early Easter morning on the Tudor overpass in Midtown. Wednesday night police say they have arrested the woman they say is responsible for his death. As CBS 11’s Kate McPherson reports, the victim’s family members say the news is bittersweet.
Wednesday night, investigators in the Anchorage Traffic Unit made the arrest of 19-year-old Ashley Bashore, who they say was behind the wheel of the Hyundai Santa Fe which killed Hubert Tunuchuk. Following a grand jury indictment, she was arrested at her family’s home in West Anchorage shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday night.
28-year-old Hubert Tunuchuk was killed in the early hours of Easter Sunday morning while he was walking on the Tudor overpass near the Seward Highway.
“He was very humble, very respectful, the whole community loved him,” said Esther
Stauffer, the victim’s aunt.
Tunuchuk was struck by a vehicle around 3 a.m. and police say the driver fled the scene.
“I don't want to be angry but I'm definitely feeling some anger tonight of coming forward to help us, that just makes me angry,” said Geoffery Stauffer, Tunuchuk’s uncle.
Tunuchuk suffered severe head and internal injuries and later died at a nearby hospital.
Wednesday night, 19-year-old Ashley Bashore was arrested by investigators with the Anchorage Traffic Unit at her home in West Anchorage.
“This arrest was reviews by a grand jury of our peers and those folks believe that there was enough evidence to hold this person for trial,” said Anchorage police spokesman Lieutenant David Parker.
Bashore was charged with leaving the scene of an injury accident, criminally negligent homicide and tampering with physical evidence.
Tunuchuk’s family has mixed emotions about the arrest. “It’s nice to finally get closure after a half a year,” his uncle Geoffrey said. “Shock, anger, but happiness all at the same time – it’s a really strange feeling.”
There is frustration in Tunuchuk’s family that it took so long for police to make an arrest.
“I’m also relieved and excited and glad that the process is going to move forward instead of being stalled,” Geoffrey said.
But police say this type of homicide, which includes analyzing DNA, takes time. “We also have to balance the rights of the accused; we have to make sure we have a good case before we make an arrest,” said Lieutenant Parker.
Family members say they are sad the girl arrested is just 19 years old. “She’s so young and just wrong choices were made,” said Esther, Tunuchuk’s aunt. “I feel sorry for her. If she had stopped to help my nephew, maybe circumstances would’ve been different.”
But Tunuchuk’s loved ones say they’re glad their long ordeal is slowly coming to an end. “I think they’re glad that this is almost over, glad that we are going to get closure finally,” Esther said.
There will only be happy memories of a young man who was full of life. Hubert Tunuchuk’s family in Chefornak has been told about the arrest. Loved ones will remember him as an easy-going guy with a good sense of humor. He loved to play basketball, eat hamburgers and go fishing.
Tunuchuk’s family says even though it has taken so long to make an arrest, there is gratitude towards the Anchorage Police Department officers who worked on the case, and to people in the community who came forward to help.
So what is next in this case? Tomorrow afternoon there is an arraignment and then dates will be set for hearings. In the meantime, Ashley Bashore is being held on $2,500 bail and a court-appointed third-party custodian.