Police investigate two drinking deaths over the weekend

Casey Grove

Anchorage police say two men drinking over the weekend died in separate incidents, one after falling asleep in a parking lot Saturday, the other in a sleep-off center on Sunday.

At about 3:50 p.m. Saturday, a woman asked a passer-by near 36th Avenue and Springer Street to call police because her boyfriend wasn't breathing, police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker said. Officers and medics tried to revive the man, 34-year-old Billy Willie, but they were unsuccessful and pronounced him dead, Parker said.

The girlfriend told police the couple had bought hard alcohol and beer at a nearby liquor store and fell asleep near a fence and a telephone pole after drinking, Parker said. It was unclear what time the pair went to sleep, the police spokesman said. When asked if police think Willie succumbed to the cold overnight, Parker said a medical examiner will determine the cause of Willie's death.

"It was cold out, and we've certainly seen that in the past," Parker said.

On Sunday, staff at the Anchorage Safety Patrol's sleep-off center, at Anchorage Correctional Complex on East Third Avenue, called police about 7:20 p.m. to report a client not breathing, Parker said. Staff members were trying to revive the man, 42-year-old David Pete Jr., but they, too, were unsuccessful, Parker said.

Staff discovered Pete was not breathing during a routine check of the center's "clients," Parker said.

"They do periodic checks of the folks there. They're very consistent about their checks," he said. "They go person by person, just to check and make sure people are doing OK."

The center operates a van used to pick up street inebriates, generally downtown, and has a policy of taking the extremely drunk to a hospital. The center also accepts clients who walk in. Parker said he did not know the level of Pete's intoxication, if he was picked up or walked in, or what time Pete was admitted to the center.

There were no signs of foul play in either man's death, Parker said.

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