Wasilla man triggers lengthy pursuit that ends with spike strips, police dog

Zaz Hollander
Photo courtesy of Alaska State Troopers

A 42-year-old Wasilla man led Alaska State Troopers and Wasilla police on a reckless pursuit through the Wasilla area early Friday morning before spike strips and a police dog named Blazer ended the chase, troopers said.

Troopers arrested Steven W. Stewart on charges of felony eluding, felony driving under the influence, felony evidence tampering, reckless driving, providing false information, driving on a suspended license and second-degree harming a police dog.

The dog-related charges came after Stewart wrapped his legs around Blazer, a 1-year-old Belgian Malinois trying to drag him out of his car, and punched the dog in the head several times before giving up, according to an affidavit filed with charging documents at the Palmer courthouse Friday. The dog didn't appear hurt.

The arrest marked Stewart's sixth for driving under the influence since 2002, and his fourth felony DUI since 2004, a state courts database shows. His license was revoked in 2009.

The chase started at Valley Country Store at Church and Seldon roads outside Wasilla, according to the affidavit, filed by Trooper Daron Cooper. A store clerk called 911 at 4:21 a.m. to report a man refusing to leave. Cooper arrived at 4:30 am. to find Stewart sitting in his car, asleep, with a leg on the steering wheel and spilled coffee in his lap.

He woke up acting agitated, Cooper wrote.

Stewart, who was wanted on a parole warrant for a prior felony DUI, gave a false name until the trooper promised to call his mother to pick up the car, according to the affidavit.

Then, just after Cooper asked Stewart about what looked like a "drug kit" under the seat, he jumped in the car and sped off down Church toward the Parks Highway, Cooper wrote. The trooper followed at speeds of 70 mph in a 55 mph zone.

Stewart turned onto a side street and swerved into the paths of two oncoming patrol vehicles at 20 mph, Cooper wrote. He also threw items out the window: gloves, donuts and a loaded syringe. Drivers on Lucille Street, a busy two-lane road in west Wasilla, had to avoid Stewart, who was driving in the wrong lane, the affidavit said.

The car stopped on Seldon Road and North Wards Drive after troopers threw down spike strips that flattened its tires, troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

Stewart refused to get out of the car, Cooper wrote. Blazer dragged him out through a broken passenger window.

Stewart was treated for bite wounds at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center before being jailed at Mat-Su Pretrial Facility without bail, Peters said.

Stewart appeared driving while impaired by drugs, the trooper said. He saw him swaying and observed track marks on his arm but smelled no alcohol. Stewart did not complete field sobriety tests.

Along with a felony DUI conviction in 2008, Stewart was also arrested in 2003 and 2004 on the same charge. A felony DUI charge generally reflects three or more DUI arrests in a 10-year period. Stewart was arrested for a misdemeanor DUI in 2002, records show.

He was scheduled to be arraigned in Palmer District Court on Saturday morning.

Reach Zaz Hollander at zhollander@adn.com or 257-4317.