Friend recalls last day with hit-run victim

EASTER: School chums had come to Anchorage for weekend shopping.

April 26, 2011 

A small cross with artificial flowers honors Hubert Tunuchuk April 26, 2011 on Tudor Road at the southeast corner with the Seward Highway overpass. Tunuchuk, 28, from the Western Alaska village of Chefornak, was killed in a hit-and-run accident while walking the overpass with friends early Sunday morning.

ERIK HILL / ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS Buy Photo

As Anchorage police continued to investigate Sunday's fatal hit-and-run collision in Midtown, a friend of the man who was killed described how he spent his last day.

The victim, Hubert Tunuchuk II, 28, is from the Western Alaska village of Chefornak. Earlier this year, he began studying power plant operations at the state vocational-technical school in Seward. He planned to return to the village to work at the city light plant, the city administrator said.

Betty David is a friend who grew up nearby on Nunivak Island. She remembers Tunuchuk from high school, where he played basketball even though he was a small guy.

"I put it this way -- I knew him since his jersey was too big," David said. Their fathers went to pilot school together.

She lives in Anchorage now and last week drove to Seward to visit her sister at the voc-tech school. She saw Tunuchuk and he suggested a road trip to Anchorage to shop over Easter weekend. So on Saturday, David drove Tunuchuk and another friend north.

They walked around the Dimond Center a bit then went downtown to the Anchorage 5th Avenue mall, where Tunuchuk got a haircut he considered overdue, David said.

They picked up dinner at a Burger King drive-through and headed down to Point Woronzof to enjoy the view as they ate.

"We were having fun together, all of us," David said.

They hung out at a friend's home near the Parkwood Inn in Midtown. They drank a little, but nothing crazy, David said. Tunuchuk and the other friend from Seward planned to sleep there. Early Sunday morning, they stepped out for a bit, David said.

Sometime before 3 a.m., with the two guys still out, she left to go home for the night. She drove around first to see if she could spot them. She didn't see them even as she drove along Tudor Road, she said.

That's where police said Tunuchuk was hit around 3:15 a.m. Police got a call about a hit-and-run on the Tudor overpass at the Seward Highway.

Tunuchuk was rushed to Providence Alaska Medical Center with serious head and internal injuries. He was pronounced dead just before 7 a.m.

David had gotten a text message about the accident in the middle of the night. But she didn't know Tunuchuk had died until she read a post on Facebook Sunday morning.

She and the other friend from the Seward school were devastated.

"We tried to pull ourselves together. We were just with him, you know," David said.

The friend needed to return to Seward for school. So they gassed up and drove to Seward. David collected Tunuchuk's belongings and brought them to Anchorage to give to his parents, who had flown in from the village.

Police say they have recovered the vehicle that struck him, but are revealing little about the investigation. Tunuchuk and his friend were walking westbound. The vehicle was headed east. Police haven't said if they've determined whether the men were on the narrow sidewalk or in the road.

Police ask any witnesses to the collision or anyone else with information to call traffic investigator Michael Busey at 786-2424. Anyone who wants to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 561-7867 or submit a tip on the organization's website at www.anchoragecrimestoppers.com

Meanwhile, relatives have set up an account at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union for people who want to help Tunuchuk's parents cover costs of a funeral and transportation of his body to Chefornak.


Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 257-4390.

Anchorage Daily News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service