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Alaska Senate press secretary charged with hit-and-run, DUI

  • Author: Nathaniel Herz
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published June 4, 2015

The Alaska Senate majority's chief spokeswoman was charged with three felonies and misdemeanor driving under the influence after police said she struck two women and drove away from the parking lot of the state Legislature's Anchorage office building Tuesday around 5:30 p.m.

Senate press secretary Carolyn Kuckertz, 38, backed her sedan out of a parking space and hit one woman hard enough to knock the glasses off her face and send her to the hospital, according to charges and a sworn police statement filed Wednesday in Anchorage district court. She then bumped a second woman "in the back of her leg, causing pain," the charges said.

"Witnesses reported the driver stopped and appeared to know she struck the victim because she had a look of shock on her face," the charging documents said. "Another witness told the driver to stop and the driver said, 'I can't.' "

When a police officer later confronted the driver, she was so drunk she swayed while standing, the officer said.

Kuckertz didn't immediately return a voicemail left on her phone Thursday afternoon. James Christie, a partner at the law firm representing Kuckertz, declined to comment.

The first woman allegedly struck by Kuckertz, Maura Selenak, ended up on the curb in "extreme pain," according to charging documents. She had swelling and bruising on her back and was transported to a hospital, but she was released without any "known" fractures or major injuries, the documents said.

A witness gave police officers Kuckertz's license plate number and reported that she appeared to be intoxicated, the documents said.

Police found Kuckertz inside a day care near the intersection of Minnesota Drive and Benson Boulevard, where she was picking up her child, said Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Anita Shell.

Kuckertz had an "odor of alcohol about her and was swaying while standing," according to the charging documents.

"Standardized field sobriety tests were attempted but stopped for safety reasons due to Kuckertz swaying and stumbling," the documents said.

Kuckertz eventually provided a breath sample that registered a blood alcohol content of .208, more than twice the legal limit of .08 percent.

A district court judge on Wednesday set Kuckertz's bail at $10,000 and required her to get a third-party custodian. She has a pre-indictment hearing June 25.

The Legislature has been meeting in Anchorage as part of a special session called to resolve a long-running budget dispute.

Kuckertz, who is paid $93,700 annually, has been placed on administrative leave without pay, said Sen. Kevin Meyer, the president of the Senate and her boss.

Meyer said he hasn't spoken with Kuckertz and only learned of the incident Wednesday night. His leadership team has not yet made a decision about Kuckertz's long-term status, he said, but likely would later Thursday or Friday.

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