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Suspected drunk driver plows into family

By Heather Hintze 7:23 PM January 5, 2014

“Here we have another incident where an intoxicated, heavily intoxicated driver hits three people, injuring them, could have killed them"

ANCHORAGE- An Anchorage woman is behind bars after police said she drunkenly plowed into a family early Sunday morning.

Erica Merrill, 34, is charged with a felony DUI, three counts of assault in the second degree and four counts of assault in the third degree. She’s also charged with driving with a revoked license and driving without insurance.

At 12:09 a.m., Merrill was driving her SUV east  on 88th Avenue where a family of seven was walking, APD said.

Merrill hit 22-year-old Patricia Shawley, her 18-month-old son who was in a stroller, and her four-year-old son, officers said. Shawley suffered a leg injury after being pinned by the car; her sons went to the hospital with cuts and abrasions, they said. The 4-year-old also had a collapsed lung and was being monitored in the Intensive Care Unit, police said.

After the crash, police said Merrill tried to flee the scene.

“There was an individual who was a security guard at the nearby Trophy Lounge that actually helped restrain her until police could arrive,” said Anita Shell, spokesperson for the Anchorage Police Department. “So there were some good Samaritans who weren’t going to stand by and let this happen to these innocent people.”

This is Merrill’s third DUI charge, according to court records. It shows she’s also been convicted of child endangerment and neglect, as well as driving without a license several times.

It’s frustrating to see something like this happen when so many officers and citizen volunteers are out on the streets looking for drunk drivers, Shell said.

“Here we have another incident where an intoxicated, heavily intoxicated driver hits three people, injuring them, could have killed them,” Shell said. “Through the grace of God she did not. This family was just innocently walking home and should have been okay on the street of Anchorage.”

Merrill was arraigned on the charges in Anchorage Jail Court on Sunday afternoon. Judge Christina Teaford determined Merrill is a flight risk and a danger to the community. She set Merrill’s bail at $40,000 cash with a third party custodian.  Merrill will be back in court on Tuesday.


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