Crime & Courts

Anchorage man charged with manslaughter, marijuana-related DUI for August crash

A man has been charged with manslaughter after blood test results showed he was under the influence of marijuana at the time of a fatal car-motorcycle crash over the summer, Anchorage police said.

Christopher Turkette, 41, was also charged with driving under the influence and reckless driving for a crash that occurred in August, police said in a release Wednesday.

The charges were delayed until now while police waited for toxicology results, police spokeswoman Renee Oistad said.

"Toxicology for drugs is done out of state so it just takes a while," Oistad said.

When asked what the toxicology results showed, Oistad said that "the level of marijuana intoxication in Turkette's system will not be released prior to the case being closed."

In Alaska, you aren't allowed to have any level of marijuana in your system while driving, Oistad said.

In Colorado and Washington, states where recreational marijuana is also legalized, a person must have more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood to be considered impaired.

Since 2014, marijuana DUIs have made up roughly 5 percent of all driving under the influence charges in Anchorage, Oistad said. In 2016, there were 64 marijuana DUIs. From January to September 2017, there were 42 marijuana DUIs.

On Aug. 8, 30-year-old Douglas J. Bittinger died after the collision with Turkette. Bittinger was traveling eastbound on Dowling Road, straight through the intersection with the Old Seward Highway, on a red 2015 Ducati motorcycle. He had a green light, according to police.

Christopher Turkette was driving a 2005 Chrysler Pacifica, heading westbound on Dowling, Oistad wrote. Turkette reportedly had a yellow flashing arrow as he turned south onto Old Seward.

"The two vehicles collided in the intersection; Bittinger was pronounced deceased approximately ten minutes after the crash," Oistad said.

Bittinger was wearing a helmet, police said.

After the crash, Turkette stayed on the scene and provided blood samples, Oistad said Wednesday. Charges were filed against Turkette on Tuesday, online records show. He was arrested on Wednesday.