A Delta Junction woman accused of fatally striking a man with her pickup along the Alaska Highway earlier this year later sprinkled moose hair over the engine to make it look like she’d hit an animal instead, according to an Alaska State Troopers affidavit.
Chelsie Erickson, 32, was arrested last week on charges of criminally negligent homicide, tampering with evidence and leaving the scene of the accident. Erickson’s mother was also arrested on a charge of evidence tampering.
The airbag control module on the truck showed that Erickson was driving 68 mph and did not brake before striking Emerick and only “slowed marginally” after the impact, according to an affidavit written by troopers investigator Al Bell. The document provides no additional details about the collision.
Another driver called for help that night after swerving to avoid large pieces of debris in the road and finding Emerick dead, it said.
After the crash, troopers asked for the public’s help locating the vehicle that struck Emerick. A person who knew Erickson reached out to authorities in early October and said she told others she hit a moose the night Emerick died, but no moose was ever located, the affidavit said. Another investigator received a similar tip.
Troopers used data from Erickson’s phone to determine she was in the area of the crash when it occurred, according to the affidavit.
During an interview with troopers on Oct. 10, Erickson said she hit a moose but the animal ran into the woods and she didn’t report the crash, the affidavit said. She told troopers her truck was towed to a repair shop in Fairbanks, but did not provide details about where and authorities were unable to find any business that worked on Erickson’s truck, it said.
Troopers obtained a search warrant on Oct. 17 and found a damaged 2014 Silverado locked in a detached garage in Delta Junction, the affidavit said. Debris found at the scene of the collision matched the color and appearance of the truck, it said.
Portions of the pickup had been removed, and investigators found moose hair on the engine but did not see any hair on the front of the truck, the affidavit said.
A moose mount hanging in the garage next to the vehicle appeared to have “large clumps of loose hairs that appeared to have been pulled or plucked from the mount,” Bell wrote. “Based on these observations, it appeared moose hair was retrieved from the mount and then intentionally ‘hand sprinkled’ over the engine compartment of the truck, representing a fictitious moose accident.”
Erickson’s mother was also arrested on a felony charge of tampering with evidence, troopers said. It wasn’t immediately clear specifically how she was involved in the case.
Both women were taken into custody Oct. 17. and remained at the Fairbanks Correctional Center on Tuesday morning.