Man charged in crash involving stolen truck
A crash between a stolen truck and a vehicle with children inside is the latest public display of the consequences of Anchorage's car theft problem.
According to court documents filed Sunday by Anchorage Assistant District Attorney Sarah Park, the driver of a Dodge truck failed to stop at a stop sign at the intersection of C Street and East 16th Avenue on Saturday, smashing into a family's car head-on.
Witnesses reported seeing a man and woman get out of the truck and run away from the scene of the crash.
"The driver was identified as a Samoan male wearing khaki shorts and a ponytail," Park wrote, "The male had left his shoes on the scene."
A short while later, Anchorage police officers found Tu'ugasala Fata'ali'i Jr., 20, who had a ponytail, was wearing khaki shorts and had only white socks on his feet. According to the charging document, Fata'ali'i said he was running from his home to his sister's home, but could not provide APD with an address for either location.
Fata'ali'i appeared in court Sunday afternoon on charges of vehicle theft, leaving the scene of an accident and assault in the third-degree, after the driver of the other car positively identified him as the driver of the stolen truck.
The prosecutor said additional charges were likely, based on items found inside the truck, including a stolen firearm.
The judge said Fata'ali'i had scored as low risk on the State's Risk Assessment Tool and ordered a bail arrangement requiring him to pay a total of $650 in cash to get out. He also ordered electronic monitoring and supervision by the State's Pretrial Enforcement Division.
In court, Fata'ali'i directed a non-verbal "hang loose" gesture toward the owner of the stolen truck.
That man spoke with KTVA after the hearing but asked that he not be identified out of concerns for his safety. He said the thieves had broken into his garage to get the keys to his truck on Monday and documents containing his personal identification information as well as a shotgun were inside the truck.
He said when he looked through the truck at the crash site Saturday it contained a large collection of keys, identification documents for multiple other people and a large teddy bear.
"These people were going around town and committing serious theft crimes all week using my vehicle," he said.
He said the license plates were changed multiple times during the week and that the thieves had tinted the truck's windows.
The man said the experience robbed him of his peace of mind and he was even more displeased with Sunday's bail decision.
"That's due to systems that are in place, as of 2016, that's allowing individuals like this to get back on the streets," he said.
The woman believed to have been inside the truck with Fata'ali'i has not yet been arrested.
According to the owner of the stolen truck, the family involved in the crash went to the hospital for minor injuries and are expected to be okay.
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