‘You need to step out!:’ Drivers stop woman in Parks Highway DUI
A Palmer woman driving recklessly on the Parks Highway Wednesday night was stopped by fellow drivers according to Alaska State Troopers, who took her into custody for allegedly driving drunk.
An online dispatch on the arrest of 49-year-old Laura Phillips said word of a “reckless impaired driver” on the Parks, near Hyer Road, reached troopers just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“Multiple witnesses were able to safely negotiate the 2014 Toyota Camry to a stop,” troopers wrote. “Investigation revealed [Phillips] was driving under the influence of alcohol and subsequently arrested.”
A Facebook video appearing to depict the encounter, which was publicly posted Wednesday then later deleted by Kunayaq Hank, shows a Camry swerving on the road. Several drivers box the car in, bringing it to a stop before they get out and urge the woman at the wheel to put the sedan in park.
“You need to step out!” drivers yell at her. “Before you kill somebody with kids – you will seriously kill somebody with kids!”
KTVA has reached out to Hank for comment.
According to AST, Phillips was charged with DUI and reckless driving and held on $500 bail. Court records show she has a previous Palmer DUI conviction from December 2007.
Phillips, a dietitian with the Anchorage School District, spoke with KTVA last year about nutrition in new student meals. Asked about her employment status, ASD spokeswoman Catherine Esary said in an email Friday that Phillips "is not currently at work."
"ASD does not terminate employment based on allegations," Esary wrote. "Each case is considered on its merits."
An affidavit in the case, filed by Trooper Christopher Havens, said he spoke with the people involved in a Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership’s parking lot on Hyer Road. Drivers told him Phillips “was speeding past vehicles in the left lane” of the 65 mph highway, and “nearly sideswiped in [excess] of four vehicles while failing to maintain her lane.”
“The witnesses felt Phillips’ dangerous driving was to such a degree that subsequently resulted in them creating a rolling block to slow Phillips to a stop, [blocking] both northbound lanes of the Parks Highway,” Havens wrote. “The witnesses removed the keys from her possession and moved the vehicle into the parking lot.”
Havens said Phillips told him she was heading home from Anchorage and had drank one to four small shooter bottles of alcohol. Her breath alcohol content just after 7 p.m. registered as .265 – more than three times Alaska’s legal limit for drunk driving.
“Phillips had bloodshot watery eyes, slurred incoherent speech and an overwhelming odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from her person,” Havens wrote. “Phillips was driving to her residence on Palmer Fishhook Road however she was not driving in the correct direction.”
Although Wednesday's stop ended safely, trooper Lt. Andrew Gorn urged people to seek help from authorities before intervening on their own.
“This event did resolve itself in a safe manner, which everyone is fortunate for, but the likelihood of future events, similar events, resolving themselves without some type of injury or collision I would say is unlikely," Gorn said. "The best response is to call law enforcement, call 911, stay a safe distance back, and give timely updates so law enforcement can respond.”
Phillips was initially held at the Mat-Su Pretrial Facility, according to a statewide inmate database, but posted bail Thursday afternoon.
Scott Jensen and Daniella Rivera contributed information to this story.
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