Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Family Mourns Hit-And-Run Victim
Police know identity of driver.
At 3 a.m., Easter Sunday, Hubert Tunuchuk II was in Anchorage, far from home, hundreds of miles away from Chefornak, where his parents slept.
“The phone rang,” Godelieve Tunuchuk, Hubert’s mother recalled. “I was half asleep, half awake.”
The call was from Providence Medical Center.
“Are you the mother of Hubert Tunuchuk II?” Godelieve said the man on the other end of the line asked. “And then I said, ‘Yeah.’ (He said), ‘Something happened to your son.'”
At first, Godelieve thought the call was about her other son, who was disabled and living in Anchorage. And then it hit her: Hubert was in Anchorage to buy clothes for Easter service. He was taking the weekend off from training in Seward, where he was learning to operate generators, knowledge his family says he planned to take back to Chefornak.
Anchorage police say Hubert was walking with a group of people on the Tudor overpass near Seward highway when a vehicle struck him.
Witnesses called for help and Hubert was rushed to the hospital.
“They told me it was a hit-and-run and he had internal damage and head trauma,” said Hubert’s aunt, Esther Stauffer, crying.
His parents took the earliest flight to Anchorage, but arrived too late.
“Later on, I don't know what time, he passed away,” Godelieve said.
An APD spokesperson said Tuesday afternoon that, thanks to a tip, detectives know who was behind the wheel and which vehicle it was, but say the suspect has not been arrested. Police refuse to disclose details because they’re still interviewing witnesses and don’t want to “taint” the witnesses’ memories.
To the hit-and-run driver, Stauffer said she would like to say, “Please don’t take another life. It's hard enough right now.”
To the cab driver who called 911 and the woman who tried to help Hubert, Stauffer said the family would like to thank them in person.
As the police investigation continues, loved ones remember Hubert as the man who could fix anything, who loved the outdoors.
“He was very humble, very special,” Stauffer said. “The whole community loved him.”
They remember him as the fourth of seven children who grew up to be a man with a big smile.
“I never had brothers or sisters growing up and he was like a brother to me,” said his cousin, Diana Lewis.
His uncle, Geoffery Stauffer, said Hubert always had a ready smile.
“There's not a lot of people like him in this world,” Stauffer said. “Never angry at anyone.”
Hubert’s father, Hubert Tunuchuk, Sr., said his son was beloved for his big heart.
“Caretaker, care provider,” Tunuchuk said. “I hope everybody will learn to be like him, taking care of all the people no matter how bad they are or mistreated. Love them all. I thank God for bringing him to me.”
Taken too soon, at 28, from a family who always made sure he knew he was loved.
“When we hang up I always say, ‘I love you’ after we talk on the phone,” Hubert’s father said. “I always say, ‘I love you, son.’ Those were my last words to him, ‘I love you.'”
If you have any information on the hit-and-run, Anchorage police are asking you to call Officer Mike Busey at (907) 786-2424.
Donations to offset funeral costs can be made at Alaska USA, where an account has been set up under “In Memory of Hubert Tunuchuk II.”