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As hit-and-run victim lies in hospital, family seeks answers

Michelle Theriault Boots
Family members of Zack Mohs have dropped everything and flown to Anchorage to be at his side as doctors treat him at Providence Alaska Medical Center on Sunda. From left, Zack's father, Jeffrey Mohs of Pennsylvania, sisters Molly Miller, Amanda Novotny and mother, Cheryl Young, of Minnesota, hope that the driver involved it the horrific hit-and-run turns themself in.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Zack Mohs' sister, Molly Miller, and his mother, Cheryl Young, both from Minnesota, embrace in Providence Alaska Medical Center on Sunday.
Anchorage Daily News

Zachary Mohs' father can't scour the image from his mind: His son left on Arctic Boulevard on a rainy Anchorage night, half-crushed by a hit-and-run driver, his foot nearly severed.

"They ran over him like he was hamburger meat," said Jeffrey Mohs on Sunday at Providence Alaska Medical Center, where his 26-year-old son is in the critical-care unit.

His family wants people to know the details of the damage done: That the guy who lived to skateboard has had a foot amputated and may lose more of his leg. That his shoulder, arm and ribs are shattered. That the two broken vertebrae in his back may mean paralysis.

They hope that the person who did it will read the words and feel so wracked with guilt they'll turn themselves in. They also want the driver to know about their sweet-hearted bearded giant of a son and brother, a 6-foot-4-inch guy with a tattoo of his beloved deceased dog's paw print who never missed a call on a birthday or Mother's Day.

"I want them to meet my son," his mother Cheryl Young said. "He was worth stopping for."

RED PONTIAC FIERO

Police said Mohs was struck by a car at around 8:15 p.m. on Thursday as he crossed the street from his apartment near 45th Avenue and Arctic Boulevard to the Shell station on the corner of Tudor Road to buy cigarettes.

The car ran over him and left him bleeding in the street. His friends and roommates in the apartment knew something was wrong when they heard sirens. When they went out to look around, Mohs' glasses and bloody socks were still in the street, family said, but the ambulance had taken him away.

Police announced Friday that wrecked parts found at the scene suggest Mohs was hit by a two-door, two-seat 1984-1988 red Pontiac Fiero with a damaged right headlight.

'PLEASED WITH LIFE'

Mohs grew up in Palmer and spent some time living in Minnesota, where his mother and sisters now live.

For the past few years he had been living in Anchorage and working as a bartender's assistant at the Great Alaskan Bush Company.

Since the accident, his co-workers there have raised money for Mohs' medical bills and family by leaving out donation buckets. One dancer gave more than $100 in tips.

Mohs is known for loving skateboarding, music, art and his two small dogs, named Peanut Butter Johnson and Griz Malone, his friends and family said.

"He was genuinely pleased with life," said Reyn Krebs, 27, his friend since the second grade and sometimes roommate. "He wasn't super ambitious. His life was good enough."

In Anchorage, his couch was always open to people who needed a place to crash, friends said. He loved gravel-voiced troubadour Tom Waits, punk pioneers Bad Brains and old jazz music. He took pride in his bushy, sandy-blonde beard and gave his sisters silly birthday cards like one that featured a dinosaur saying "Happy 4th Birthday," even though the sister in question was turning 20. He wore a colorful tattoo of a Yeti on one forearm and hoped someday to travel to Japan.

"If he had something to say, you could be sure it was worth hearing," said his sister Molly Miller, 20.

'I'M NOT LEAVING ...'

For now, there's not much to do but wait: Doctors have Mohs heavily sedated. He will need many surgeries.

Family members -- mom, dad, sisters --flew up as soon as they heard, leaving jobs and college semesters in Minnesota and Pennsylvania.

Young said they haven't heard directly from police but hope that detectives are zeroing in on the owner of the Fiero.

"I trust the Anchorage police until they give me a reason not to," said Young.

They'd like people to donate blood. Mohs has already needed 40 units, his mother said.

For now, they keep an around-the-clock vigil at the hospital, sitting by Mohs' side in shifts. Friends have dropped off care packages for the long hours.

"I'm not leaving until my son comes with me," Young said.

She too can't shake the thought of her son lying in the street. She said she can't help but think if the situation had been reversed -- if he had been in the driver's seat -- that he would have stayed and tried to help.

"I know he would never leave someone to die," she said. "He would take the heat."

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


By MICHELLE THERIAULT BOOTS
Anchorage Daily News