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Colleagues remember victim of Midtown hit-and-run as a man of character

A former coworker says the man who was struck and killed in a Midtown Anchorage hit-and-run collision early Monday never owned a driver's license and preferred to walk around the city.

James William Hawke Jr., 71, was killed at Northern Lights Boulevard's intersection with the New Seward Highway, police said in a brief statement Friday. Hawke's next of kin have been notified.

The driver accused of striking him, 20-year-old Quinton Molinar, has been charged with manslaughter. He also stands accused of driving away from the scene before surrendering himself to police later Monday.

Hawke worked for the Bureau of Land Management in Alaska for four decades. His career began in the 1970s and he retired in 2012, according to a statement from Tasha Huhta, Cadastral Office section chief at the BLM.

James William Hawke Jr., 71, was killed in a hit-and-run collision Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, in Anchorage. His former boss said Hawke chose to walk around the city and never got his license.

"His entire career was spent in Alaska, beginning on field crews and finishing with preparing special instructions in the office," Huhta said. "Those who worked with Hawke will certainly remember his unique character.

"In honor of his memory, please drive carefully, today and always."

Hawke never applied for a driver's license and walked to work at the Federal Building downtown from his home in Fairview, said Michael Schoder, who oversaw Hawke's work when Hawke moved to the office job around 2004.

He wore out his shoes walking around Anchorage, Schoder said, adding that Hawke could have driven a car but chose not to. The choice sometimes caused headaches when Hawke worked in the field, as he always needed a driver to get to sites, he said.

Hawke kept his personal life private, Schoder said. The federal worker was career driven, did things by the book and was reliable, he said.

James William Hawke Jr. (right) receives an award from his former boss Michael Schoder (left) for his 40 years of service at the Bureau of Land Management in Alaska. Hawke was killed in a hit-and-run in Anchorage on Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. (Tasha Huhta, BLM)

"My sense is that he was a bit of a loner and he was content with that. He was a big supporter of the arts and always bought tickets for a bluegrass festival in January," Schoder said.

Even after Hawke's retirement, Schoder said, he frequently saw Hawke walking around town, generally along the same route and at the same time of day.

It was not unusual to spot Hawke at the intersection where he was killed, wearing his characteristic orange backpack and big glasses. Schoder said he believes Hawke was likely walking to get breakfast.

"Even in his retirement he'd be up early walking, doing whatever he believed was important to him," Schoder said. "We're all shocked he died this way. He was very safety conscious, probably from his line of work."

Charging documents against Molinar said he told police that he had been headed west on Northern Lights at about 5:30 a.m. Monday when he hit Hawke, who had been headed north across Northern Lights in the crosswalk. Molinar said he felt "a faint pulse" in Hawke after he was hit by Molinar's Nissan Maxima, but removed Hawke from the windshield and left the scene.

Molinar's mother, who was in the car with him, told investigators that he ran a red light at the New Seward, then drove through other red lights as they headed for home. After returning home, Molinar said he covered the car with a tarp and threw away the clothes he had been wearing.

Police arrested Molinar on charges of leaving the scene of an injury accident and tampering with physical evidence, in addition to the manslaughter charge.

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