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Driver charged after pedestrian hit, killed in Anchorage

Exactly four months after 36-year-old Arthur Mike was struck by an SUV and killed on Gambell Street in Anchorage, an assistant district attorney wrote a letter to the Anchorage Police Department saying his office would not prosecute the driver for causing Mike's death.

Instead, the state charged 29-year-old Nita Akpik with operating under the influence, driving with a suspended license and driving without insurance, Daniel Shorey, assistant district attorney, wrote in a letter dated Jan. 9 and released by police Thursday.

Akpik, the letter said, was driving a Chevrolet Suburban southbound on Gambell Street near the Cal Worthington car dealership the night of Sept. 9. Akpik told police she did not see Mike until he was 2 or 3 feet from her SUV.

"Akpik said she believed at first it was a box, bag or papers and she struck it driving 45 mph," the letter said.

She stopped the car, and one of her passengers said the SUV had hit a person. It was around 11:30 p.m. and raining.

Police later examined Akpik's SUV and found marks on its undercarriage that suggested that when the car hit Mike, he was not standing.

A toxicology report determined that Akpik tested positive for heroin, marijuana and cocaine at the time of the crash. Mike's blood alcohol level was measured at .426. An autopsy concluded that he died from multiple blunt-force injuries to the head, torso and extremities, the letter said.

Shorey wrote that "the weather conditions make it extremely difficult for me to believe a sober driver would have recognized that a man was laying in the road that night."

For Akpik to be charged with criminally negligent homicide, prosecutors would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a "reasonable person" would have perceived the risk of a person in the road, Shorey wrote.

Mike wore black clothes and carried a black backpack. There are no crosswalks on that stretch of Gambell Street.

Shorey also wrote in the letter that he could not "entirely rule out" the possibility that another vehicle hit Mike.

In conversations with police, Akpik and the three passengers in her car mentioned a blue vehicle. Two passengers said it drove in front of the SUV. Akpik said it drove in the next lane over. The driver of a blue Chrysler PT Cruiser told police he drove just behind the SUV and did not see anyone standing in the roadway.

"Mike's decision to enter the roadway at this area resulted in his death," Shorey wrote.

Shorey did not immediately respond to request for comment.