Friends mourn teenagers killed by alleged drunken driver

casey.grove@adn.comAugust 10, 2013 

Two teenage girls killed on the sidewalk by a drunk driver Friday evening in South Anchorage were walking home from a mall where they had been shopping for back-to-school supplies, police said Saturday.

Stacey Allen Graham, 31, was drunk and behind the wheel of his red pickup that jumped the curb along Abbott Road and hit Brooke McPheters and Jordyn Durr, both 15, a police spokeswoman said. The best friends died at the scene.

An ambulance rushed Graham to a hospital. He is charged with two counts of second-degree murder and drunk driving. Police said his blood-alcohol content was about three times the legal limit to drive.

Friends of the two girls were drawn Saturday to the spot where they had died, bearing bouquets of flowers, shocked over what had happened.

"I couldn't stop crying all last night," said Lara Lockard, still in tears. "I still can't believe she's gone."

Lockard said the girls were about to start their sophomore year of high school. McPheters went to South High, while Durr attended Service, according to the school district. Friends said both girls participated in ROTC and aspired to join the Air Force.

Durr was a great shooter who earned a letter on the Service riflery squad, said a teammate, Moriah Miller. McPheters wanted to be a pilot, and she enjoyed shopping and going on walks with friends to talk about life, Lockard said.

In anticipation of school starting Aug. 21, McPheters and Durr went shopping at the Dimond Center mall, police spokeswoman Dani Myren said. They were on the east side of the Seward Highway, heading home Friday night. It was rainy.

Just before 6:45 p.m., witnesses saw Graham driving recklessly in his 2006 Toyota Tacoma headed eastbound on Dimond Boulevard, which becomes Abbott Road after crossing under the highway, Myren said. As he rounded one arc of an "S" turn, before 88th Avenue, Graham appeared to lose control and the pickup left the roadway, she said.

Tire marks on the dirt between the road and the sidewalk showed where the pickup veered off the road at a sharp angle. It hit McPheters and Durr, then smashed into a sign for the Alzheimer's Resource of Alaska building at 1750 Abbott Road. Graham's pickup landed on its side, Myren said.

"The roof of Graham's vehicle was removed in order to extract him from the vehicle and he was transported to a hospital with what appeared to be serious injuries," Myren said in a written statement Saturday. "Both McPheters and Durr were pronounced deceased at the scene."

As for Graham, he remained in the hospital Saturday, though his injuries are "considered to be of a non-life-threatening nature," Myren said. "Alcohol, reckless driving behaviors, speed and wet road conditions are all considered factors in the collision."

City property records and state voting records show Graham lives at a house he owns about a mile to the east of where he is accused of killing Durr, who lived less than a half-mile from the scene, and McPheters, whose home was about two miles away.

A woman who answered the door at Durr's home Saturday said her family appreciated the "outpouring of the community's love and support" but declined to comment further. Reached in Arizona, Durr's uncle, John Durr, said, "The family would like to grieve in private at this time."

McPheters' family also declined to comment.

According to Alaska courts, Graham was cited for speeding in 2011, the year he was granted a dissolution of marriage with children, and has never before faced criminal charges in Alaska.

Police typically arrest hospitalized defendants when they are released from medical care.

Myren said anyone who witnesses someone driving in a reckless manner and creating an emergency for members of the public should call 911.

About 40 friends and family members of McPheters and Durr gathered at the crash scene Saturday night. A makeshift memorial of flowers and hand-drawn signs had grown throughout the day as people stopped by to pay condolences to the two teenagers.

Durr smiled "all the time," said Miller, her riflery teammate. "She was a really cool person."

Lockard described her friend McPheters as a good listener.

"She was always there for me. I don't know what I'm going to do without her."

Daily News reporter Lisa Demer contributed to this report. Reach Casey Grove at or 257-4589.


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