Wrangell Sentinel -

By Ben Muir 

State prosecutors allege Allen refused treatment for a seizure disorder


PETERSBURG - The Alaska Office of Special Prosecutions issued a press release on Tuesday addressing the murder and manslaughter charges against 24-year-old William Christopher Allen, the driver of a vehicle that landed upside down after running off a Petersburg road on July 4, 2016, killing two and injuring one.

The state alleges that Allen was driving a Borough-owned van moments before the crash, despite warnings from doctors to not because of a seizure disorder that was “well-known” and “well-documented,” according to Assistant Attorney General Andrew Peterson, who wrote the release.

Allen appeared before Superior Court Judge William Carey Tuesday on two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of manslaughter, one count of assault in the first degree and one misdemeanor count of second-degree unsworn falsification.

He entered a not-guilty plea and bail remained at $50,000.

“The circumstances are certainly tragic,” Carey said. “The condition of the misdemeanor charge in this case particularly gives the court a better picture of what happened.

“Frankly, I wasn’t quite sure,” he added.

Allen allegedly falsified a driver’s license application in 2014 after not disclosing a seizure disorder, heart trouble, paralysis, fainting, loss of consciousness, dizzy spells, mental disorders or other health problems that might impair driving, according to court documents.

Allen’s seizures allegedly began in 2011 when he had an episode while driving in Idaho. A passenger in the vehicle told police he was having a seizure, and he appeared “groggy and responded oddly to several questions,” according to court documents.

The seizures worsened for Allen despite being prescribed medication. By 2014, he started new medication, but still experienced seizures.

Later that year, Allen experienced another seizure that his wife, Jordyn, witnessed, along with a stranger who stopped to help. Allen refused medical assistance, as he allegedly had done on several occasions.

Allen sought medical treatment in January 2016 for a seizure disorder. He was referred to a neurologist in Anchorage but never scheduled an appointment, saying that he intended to work with a neurologist from Georgia he had seen previously, according to court documents.

After he remained in Petersburg and had another seizure while working at the Parks and Recreation Department pool, supervisors adopted a plan to have a second employee with Allen at all times.

When another seizure happened, the second employee was there to catch him before his head hit the cement floor as he worked in a mechanical room. Allen was transported to the hospital but refused treatment. The staff warned him and his supervisors that he should not drive a vehicle, according to court documents.

On the morning of July 4, 2016, Allen was driving a van when he became unresponsive, staring straight out the front window while passengers yelled for him to slow down. He allegedly reached 52 miles an hour before he slumped into the passenger-side area. The van veered sharply right, drove over a guardrail and landed upside down. As a result, the crash killed Molly Parks, Marie Giesbrecht and injured Catherine Cardenas.

At the hearing on Monday, Allen telephoned in from Fairbanks, where he was arrested after moving there to recover from the crash on July 4, Peterson said.

The charge of second-degree murder carries a possible 15 to 99-year prison sentence, a maximum fine of $500,000 and restitution, the release said.

“All of the charges discussed herein are merely allegations and are not evidence of guilt and the defendant is presumed innocent,” Peterson wrote in the release. “The defendant is entitled to a fair trial at which time the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”


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