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Hit-and-run victim faces a long recovery

Casey Grove

More than a month after a sports car hit him and drove away on Arctic Boulevard, Zachary Mohs remains bedridden and hospitalized in Anchorage, struggling to even speak, his mother said Saturday.

Police announced Friday they had charged a man -- 20-year-old Luke Jerde -- in the hit-and-run. Mohs' family isn't thinking about the arrest, said his mother, Cheryl Young, instead keeping their focus on the 26-year-old Mohs' slow recovery. The night his life changed, Sept. 20, Mohs had only left home to buy a pack of cigarettes, his mother said.

He was crossing Arctic at 45th Avenue, just south of Tudor Road, about 8:15 p.m. when a red Pontiac Fiero slammed into him, according to police. Officers identified the car based on auto parts left at the scene. They found the Pontiac two days later, abandoned about two miles away.

Surgeons amputated Mohs' left leg above the knee. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, fractured vertebrae in his back, and other broken bones, Young said. The family was only recently able to explain to Mohs, once an avid skateboarder, what they knew about the collision and broke the news to him that he'd lost his leg, his mother said.

"It's the hardest thing I've done in my 48 years. But you know what? We can buy a new leg. We'll get him a new leg, and life goes on," Young said. "He was very sad when I told him about the accident, but he's a fighter and I know that God will heal my son, I just feel it in my heart."

"I told him, 'You can be sad for a while, but just for a while, because we're going to keep on fighting. That's kind of where he's at right now," she said.

Young said a detective called her Friday to say Jerde had been charged with felony assault, failing to render aid, reckless driving, evidence tampering and driving with no insurance.

"My reaction was just sadness," Young said. "It was just so avoidable. It's just another young, irresponsible driver."

Police have not said how they tracked down Jerde, but Young said she'd heard from a detective that Jerde was in the process of purchasing the red Fiero.

Due to the lateness of Jerde's arrest Friday, charging documents were not publicly available Friday or over the weekend. Court records show Jerde posted $3,000 bail late Friday and was released from jail.

Since turning 16, Jerde has been cited for 10 minor traffic offenses, including speeding and failing to stop at a stop sign. He was charged with minor consuming in 2009, misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance in 2010, and trespassing and interfering with police in 2011.

On Sept. 12, eight days before he allegedly hit Mohs, Jerde was cited for failing to exercise due caution to avoid a collision.

Young said Mohs' family will be seeking some sort of civil action against Jerde, who was allegedly driving without insurance, to pay for Mohs' enormous medical bills. Meantime, a fundraiser and silent auction will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Nov. 4 at Mohs' former place of employment, The Great Alaskan Bush Company. Mohs' family has said he worked at the strip club as a bartender's assistant.

"Zachary has the absolute best friends. They have supported us. We had to come from out of state and they've helped us with everything," said Young, who lives in Minnesota. "I'm not going to define Anchorage by this one criminal who did this to my son. I'm going to define it by the wonderful people."

 

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.

 

 


By CASEY GROVE
casey.grove@adn.com