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Crime & Courts

‘I keep seeing that car come at me like a bullet’: A 19-year-old Alaskan steered into a semi after sex-abuse accusations surfaced, troopers say

A 19-year-old Nikiski man accused of sexual abuse that began when he himself was a young child showed his despair in a text last month: “I’m am truly sorry about everything that I’ve done. I love all of you guys. Goodbye.”

Then, according to court documents filed in the case, George Napoka tried to kill himself by driving into a semitrailer on the Seward Highway.

Napoka was extricated from a stolen Subaru Legacy after the March 3 crash and airlifted to an Anchorage hospital with what Alaska State Troopers described as “life-threatening injuries.” Troopers arrested him April 1 at his father’s Anchorage apartment.

He remains jailed on more than 20 criminal charges including attempted murder, multiple counts of sexual abuse of a minor, assault, indecent exposure, reckless endangerment, and vehicle theft.

Truck driver Jerry Lutz is still reeling.

A day after the wreck, Lutz told a troopers investigator he was sore but also deeply shaken.

"It has disrupted my whole life,” he told investigator Kevin Vik, according to a sworn affidavit filed in late March with charging documents.

“I’m having a real hard time dealing with the ... I keep seeing that car come at me like a bullet,” Lutz told Vik. “That’s the part I am having a hard time dealing with. lt surprises me and I’m not sure. I’m at a pause about it. I feel like I have been assaulted.”

Lutz was still out of work as of this week. His truck has yet to be repaired due to insurance issues, he said.

The accident “was terrible and still is,” Lutz said in a message. “I have lost thousands of dollars. I will continue to lose even more.”

He watched the dash-cam video of the crash for the first time this week.

‘Never see them or do that again’

The case began in early March after two girls came forward and said Napoka had abused them, one starting when she was 5 or 6 years old back around 2012, according to the affidavit Vik filed. Napoka was around 12 at the time. He moved into the house that year, the document shows. Another victim said the abuse began when she was in kindergarten and Napoka was 9 or 10; those incidents occurred in the village of Tuluksak.

The most recent incident occurred in February, Vik wrote.

Napoka admitted the abuse during a recorded phone call. That was on March 2. Napoka wanted the person he was talking to to apologize to his victims and said “he would never see them or do that again,” the affidavit says. He asked if he was going to jail, and twice asked the person not to tell anyone.

The next morning at 7, a household member told troopers they’d received the “goodbye” text from Napoka at just before 1 a.m., the affidavit says. A friend of his also said he’d stolen the Subaru overnight. A trooper had pulled Napoka over at 2:30 a.m. on the Kenai Spur Highway, before the car was reported stolen.

The report of the crash came just before 9 a.m. at Mile 53 of the Seward Highway, near Hope.

A life-saving snowbank

The dashboard camera showed Lutz headed north on the highway near Hope at about 58 mph in a 65 mph zone, according to the charging documents.

As Napoka approached in the Subaru, the car began to drift over the center line toward the semitrailer, Vik wrote. “The video then shows George made a deliberate jerk of the wheel to the left and into the oncoming semi truck. The Subaru turned into the semi truck too late to collide head-on and instead hit behind the passenger compartment and into first tandem axle.”

Interviewed a few hours later at Providence Alaska Medical Center’s emergency room, Napoka told Vik he wanted to kill himself, the affidavit says. He told the investigator he “didn’t have the courage” to do it on his drive north, so he turned around at Girdwood, drove south, and got up the courage.

Napoka was crying during the interview, the trooper wrote.

Lutz was hauling a 40-foot refrigeration trailer. The force of the impact disconnected the trailer from the truck and flipped it onto one side, nearly blocking the highway.

The truck ended up facing south on the northbound side of the road, in a snowbank with a 225-foot drop on the other side.

“If the large snowbank had not stopped the semi truck, it would have slid further off the road, towards the drop off, likely causing serious injuries or possible death of the semitruck driver,” Vik wrote.

Before the sex-abuse charges and crash, Napoka had a clear criminal record except for a citation for driving without a license last year, according to a state courts database.

A family member did not respond to an interview request.

Napoka was appointed a public defender at his arraignment in early April. His first court hearing is scheduled for June 2.

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