Crime & Courts

Police ID couple killed in Anchorage crash that resulted in DUI and manslaughter charges

Anchorage police on Wednesday identified the 18-year-old woman and 20-year-old man who died early Sunday in a fiery wreck at Cordova Street and 15th Avenue after their vehicle was struck by someone accused of driving while intoxicated.

Amelia Nowak and Derek Duerr were both heading to college on basketball scholarships this fall, their mothers said during a court hearing for the man charged in their deaths. The two were dating.

Matthew Davis, 23, faces charges of manslaughter and driving under the influence linked to the crash. He told police he was so drunk when the crash occurred that he didn’t remember driving, charging documents said. In total, Davis struck three vehicles early Sunday, police said.

[Previously: Driver in Anchorage collision that killed young couple told police he was so drunk he didn’t remember driving, charges say]

The first crash occurred at a downtown Anchorage intersection. Andrew Shaw, who had been rear-ended by Davis, told police he pursued Davis’ Toyota Tacoma after he was hit, according to charges filed by Assistant District Attorney David Buettner. A witness reported seeing the vehicles travel at speeds of 80 to 90 mph before Davis struck Duerr and Nowak’s vehicle, which was stopped at the intersection, the charges said.

Police spokeswoman Renee Oistad would not answer questions about Shaw’s involvement on Wednesday. He has not been charged or cited related to the pursuit or crash.

Duerr and Nowak’s car was pushed into a tree, and the vehicle caught on fire. A witness tried to free the young couple but was unable to get close to the car because of the heat, the charges said. Nowak and Duerr died before firefighters were able to extricate them, Buettner wrote.


Davis struck another vehicle on the other side of the same intersection before his truck hit a shed, sign and pole and came to a stop, the charges said. The driver of the other vehicle was not hurt.

Davis was taken to the hospital, and he told officers he was intoxicated and said “I don’t remember driving,” according to the charges. His blood alcohol level measured about three times the legal limit for driving, the charges said, and he told police he drank about 10 to 15 alcoholic beverages at several downtown bars.

Duerr’s mother described him as hard working and said he wanted to be in the NBA. Nowak’s mother said she had just graduated from South Anchorage High School with honors and was headed to Western Washington University to study medicine. She wanted to become a neurosurgeon, her mother said.

Davis is being held at the Anchorage Correctional Complex on an $80,000 cash bail.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at