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Fatal hit-and-run is Anchorage's first this year, police say

A man is dead in Anchorage's first fatal hit-and-run collision since 2011 after police say a vehicle crashed into him before dawn Wednesday in South Anchorage. The driver left the man sprawled in one lane of the Old Seward Highway, according to Anchorage police, who are looking for his killer.

Late Wednesday, police identified the man as 36-year-old Anchorage resident Corbin Grassman.

A passerby found Grassman in the northbound lanes of the five-lane highway, which includes a middle turn lane, near 69th Avenue about 2:50 a.m., police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said. Officers and medics confirmed he was dead, Castro said.

"We have no identified witnesses at this time," Castro wrote in an afternoon email. "We had an officer drive through the area approximately 10 to 20 minutes before the call on a separate incident and the officer didn't observe anyone in the road or walking in the area at the time."

That and the location of some of the victim's strewn possessions are why police think someone hit him with a vehicle, Castro said. The police spokeswoman said she could not discuss what pieces of evidence were found at the scene.

For now, blunt-force injuries appear to be the cause of Grassman's death, though a medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to make the final determination, Castro said. It remains unclear if alcohol was involved. The autopsy will include a toxicology report, Castro said.

It's also unclear if he was walking in the street or if he was hit while on the sidewalk, Castro said. "When you're hit by a vehicle, you could go anywhere," she said.

An officer working the case was busy Wednesday trying to find possible surveillance video from nearby businesses, Castro said. Since publicizing the case early in the day, police have received a couple tips, she said.

Castro asked that anyone with information on the man's death call police at 786-8900.

Through mid-September, according to the most up-to-date verified data from police, Anchorage has had 53 vehicle-versus-pedestrian collisions this year, including six that were fatal. Wednesday's death is the only fatal hit-and-run of 2013, so far, Castro said, and there were none in 2012.

There were 184 vehicle-pedestrian collisions in 2012 with eight fatalities. The previous year, there were 144 with five fatalities.

Contact Casey Grove at casey(at)alaskadispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter @kcgrove.