Questions remain about driver in crash that killed girls

mtheriault@adn.comAugust 13, 2013 

On Friday, Jordyn Durr and Brooke McPheters were almost-sophomores relishing the waning days of summer vacation.

Stacey Allen Graham was a recently divorced father of two daughters with a longtime job in sales, a couple of trucks he liked to tinker with and a green house with Christmas lights still up.

The three lives collided on a sidewalk off Abbott Road that evening when Graham allegedly hit the girls after losing control of his pickup truck. His blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit, police said.

Both girls died at the scene. Graham is accused of second-degree murder and a count of driving while intoxicated.

In the days since the accident, the families of Jordyn Durr and Brooke McPheters have asked for privacy, saying they'll talk about their daughters -- known as prolific volunteers who both hoped to join the U.S. Air Force -- when the time is right.

A public memorial service is planned for later this week, though details have not been announced.

Big questions remain about the driver, the 31-year-old Graham. He is still hospitalized, prosecutor Joshua Kindred said Monday.

Police investigators say they haven't been able to interview him yet.

Graham will be arraigned as soon as he is released from the Alaska Native Medical Center, where he has been receiving treatment for injuries sustained in the crash.

The arraignment will likely happen Tuesday or Wednesday, Kindred said.

Graham was born in Laurel, Miss., according to court documents from his December 2011 divorce proceedings.

He has lived in Alaska for more than 10 years.

Court records show he married in 2003.

For years Graham and his wife, Sone, listed their address at a West Dimond mobile home park. They had two daughters, now aged 9 and 12.

Graham worked for Puget Sound Pipe and Supply from 2004 to 2007 and again from September 2008 until now. His current position is in sales, said Puget Sound Pipe and Supply spokesman Steven Lewis from the company's Kent, Wash., headquarters.

In 2009, the Grahams bought a two-story green house on the corner of Rosalind Loop and 88th Avenue in South Anchorage.

This weekend, a Christmas wreath and lights hung over the garage. A "Peace To All Who Enter" plaque decorated the door.

Neighbors said they didn't know much about Graham, but he seemed to spend a lot of time working on trucks in the driveway with friends. Children visited on the weekends.

Graham has no serious criminal record and two traffic violations in the past decade. In 2011, he paid a fine for driving between 4 and 9 miles an hour over the speed limit, and in 2003 he was cited for driving without proof of insurance.

There's no sign -- at least in Alaska court records -- that alcohol had caused legal problems for Graham in the past. But divorce records reveal hints of a life unsettled by change.

According to a hearing transcript from his 2011 divorce proceedings, Graham said he was thinking about moving back to Mississippi. He also worried about his ex-wife taking the children out of state. The couple agreed that wouldn't happen.

Police don't yet know where Graham was coming from or where he was going Friday evening. But they say he was clearly driving recklessly. More than one witness who saw Graham driving east on Abbott Road, just east of the New Seward Highway, called 911, said police investigator Steven Buchta.

He was driving over the speed limit, switching lanes and tailgating, Buchta said. At the time, it was raining hard and there was standing water on the roadway.

When he lost control of the truck, went over the curb and hit pedestrians Durr and McPheters just before Abbott Road's intersection with 88th Avenue, he was headed toward home, less than one mile away.

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at mtheriault@adn.com or 257-4344.

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