Chugiak man pleads guilty in hit and run

Casey Grove
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News

A Chugiak man admitted in court Friday to drunkenly driving his pickup into a couple walking home early Jan. 1 from a New Year's Eve concert, severely injuring them.

Tex Daniels II, 22, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree assault, a felony, and one misdemeanor count of drunken driving. In a plea deal, prosecutors dismissed one count of first-degree assault and a misdemeanor charge for leaving the scene of a wreck without offering assistance.

The victims -- Ashley Brotherton and Clayton Wilbanks -- were walking home after watching the band Pepper at a New Year's Eve show in Spenard. Daniels lost control of his Dodge Ram 1500 while passing another vehicle and slammed into the couple from behind, witnesses told police. According to a charging document, Daniels tried to drive away but passersby held him down until police arrived.

The charges say samples of Daniels' blood showed his blood-alcohol content at 0.226, well above the legal limit to drive of 0.08. In the plea agreement he signed Friday, Daniels admits to the specific allegations laid out in the earlier charges.

Brotherton and Wilbanks were badly hurt, with Brotherton getting help from a breathing machine for a time, her mother said. Wilbanks said he woke up a few hours after the collision, and Brotherton's mother said she was unconscious for about 36 hours.

Brotherton, a first-year special education teacher at Denali Montessori School, suffered a broken neck, multiple skull fractures and brain swelling, police said. Wilbanks, at the time working at a local car rental business, had a broken nose and lacerated scalp and spleen. The couple, who'd only lived in Anchorage a few months, returned to their home state of Colorado for Brotherton's recovery.

Daniels declined to comment after the Friday change of plea hearing. There were no sentencing recommendations from prosecutors in the plea agreement. Daniels is set to be sentenced in August.

Court records show Daniels pleaded no contest to charges of underage drinking in 2007 and 2008.


By CASEY GROVE
Anchorage Daily News