Crime & Courts

Jury acquits Palmer man of manslaughter in deadly 2018 boating collision near Big Lake

A Palmer man was acquitted Thursday of a manslaughter charge stemming from a 2018 boating collision that killed a woman near Big Lake.

Reagan Martz, now 31, was driving a boat on Flat Lake when he struck 35-year-old Jennifer Horazdovsky, who was on a flotation tube behind the boat her husband was driving, an Alaska state trooper wrote in a sworn affidavit filed with charges.

Two other women who were also on flotation devices were injured, the affidavit said. One woman was airlifted to a hospital for life-threatening wounds, and the other had a broken collarbone.

Martz did not stop, and witnesses reported he swam from the crash scene and used a personal watercraft to flee the area, the affidavit said.

One of the six passengers in Martz’s boat told troopers he tried to pull Horazdovsky to the shore after the collision and administer first aid. She died at the lake.

Martz’s personal watercraft broke down on the lake, and troopers took him to a nearby boat ramp, the affidavit said. Authorities said they noticed signs of impairment, and a sample of Martz’s breath showed he was at nearly twice the legal limit for driving about three hours after the collision.

The verdict was read in Palmer on Thursday morning in a jury trial that began early this month. The jury found Martz guilty of driving under the influence, a misdemeanor offense, but acquitted him of manslaughter and three first-degree assault charges, according to an Alaska Department of Law spokesman.


The trial lasted three weeks and jury deliberations took nearly another full week, Martz’s attorney noted in a statement he emailed Thursday.

“I have been involved in jury trial practice for more than twenty years, and I have never seen a more conscientious jury,” attorney John Cashion said in the statement. “There were no winners in this trial, numerous lives were permanently affected by the underlying accident, and it took a courageous jury to fairly weigh the facts and apply the law.”

Martz declined to comment when reached by phone Thursday.

The verdict disappointed Horazdovsky’s family, her mother Sharon Hulley said by phone Thursday morning.

Horazdovsky was pursuing a degree in social work and worked with children who had special needs, Hulley said. She and her husband waited to have a child of their own so they could first travel and continue activities like snowmachining and riding all-terrain vehicles, her mother said. Once she gave birth to her daughter Riley, Horazdovsky was a doting mother who “couldn’t get over how much she could love that little human being,” Hulley said.

Her daughter is now 7 years old.

The court process brought on a roller coaster of emotions for the last five years, Hulley said, and she is relieved to be done with proceedings.

“We’ve talked about, that good or bad, this part will allow us to at least focus on Riley and to focus on picking up the pieces,” she said.

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