2 charged in crash that injured National Guardsmen working Swan Lake Fire
Two people from Soldotna were arrested and face charges in what police have said was a drunk-driving crash that injured three members of the Alaska Air National Guard and one member of the Alaska State Defense Force who were deployed to aid with the Swan Lake Fire.
Lt. Ben Langham with the Kenai Police Department said 21-year-old Johnathan C. Tanape and 18-year-old Loren J. Burns were arrested and face multiple charges related to the incident.
A press release from KPD on Monday said at 3:40 a.m. Saturday police and fire crews responded to a head-on collision near mile 9 of the Kenai Spur Highway. After providing medical attention and investigating the scene, Tanape and Burns were arrested.
Tanape, who was driving the vehicle according to KPD Lt. Langham, was arrested on charges of DUI, four counts of third-degree assault, first-degree vehicle theft, reckless endangerment and false information.
Burns faces charges of first-degree vehicle theft, hindering prosecution and false information.
Both Tanape and Burns were arraigned Sunday at the Kenai Courthouse and are being held at Wildwood Pretrial Facility.
Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead, a spokesperson for the Alaska National Guard, said three of the victims are at home recovering with one member of the National Guard back on duty.
"Initial reports were that they suffered minor injuries," Olmstead said. "They’re just recovering now, resting."
Olmstead said one of the guardsmen injured is heading back out to the area Tuesday, part of a group of 10 to help with evacuation and to assist local authorities as needed. She said the guardsman has been checked out by doctors and is doing fine.
"So he’s headed back out," she said.
Olmstead said despite the accident, the National Guard is focused on the task at hand.
"We’ve moved on from that and are focusing on the positive operations," she said. "Supporting the community for the fires."
One of the guardsmen injured in the accident is the son of Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, according to the borough's lead public information officer Brenda Ahlberg. The mayor said his son, Ryan Pierce, is doing well.
Mayor Pierce hopes the focus goes back to the members of the National Guard, many who work day jobs and provide support during events like the Swan Lake Fire.
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