Driver in Christmas crash charged with DUI, assault

One of the drivers involved in a Christmas Day crash that severely injured an Anchor Point girl has been charged with driving under the influence and assault. 

According to Alaska State Troopers, Larry E. Pyatt Jr., 29, of Anchor Point, drove a 1999 Toyota SUV that hit a 1994 Toyota pickup truck stalled on the northbound side of the Sterling Highway near Mile 145.5 in Happy Valley. A 1997 Dodge van driven by Nathan Sargeant was parked in front of the pickup to give it a jump. Angelica Haakenson, 12, and her mother, Mathany Satterwhite, 29, had been between the vehicles. 

The crash threw Satterwhite into the ditch and pinned Haakenson between the vehicles. Angelica lost both legs in the crash. Satterwhite had been driving the pickup and she and her daughter were attempting to jump start the truck.

Angelica successfully finished sixth grade at Chapman Elementary School and has returned home to Anchor Point, her aunt, Emily Haakenson, said in a phone interview on Tuesday. 

“She’s back home and finished out the school year. She’s happy to be home, happy to be with her friends,” Emily Haakenson said. “She’s doing very well.”

On May 15, a Kenai grand jury indicted Pyatt with two counts of first-degree assault for causing severe injury to Angelica and Satterwhite and three counts of third-degree assault for recklessly causing injury to Angelica and Satterwhite and John Hangstefer, a passenger in the Dodge van. Both charges are felonies. 

Pyatt also was indicted on misdemeanor charges of DUI for driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances, reckless driving, reckless endangerment and sixth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance, marijuana. On the reckless endangerment charge, Pyatt was alleged to have engaged in conduct which created a substantial risk of serious physical injury to Angelica, Satterwhite, Hangstefer, Sargeant and Ilima Kahula, a passenger in Pyatt’s SUV.

Pyatt was arraigned in Kenai Superior Court on May 26 with Superior Court Judge Anna Moran. He did not enter a plea. Moran ruled him eligible for defense from a court appointed lawyer. Troopers did not take Pyatt into custody and Moran released him on his own recognizance — that is, without setting any bail — and on the conditions that he not consume alcohol, marijuana or controlled substances unless prescribed by a doctor. 

A trial date was set for the week of Aug. 24 in Homer, with the next hearing at 2:30 p.m. July 17 in Kenai.

Citing concerns about pretrial publicity that could affect Pyatt’s ability to get a fair trial, troopers declined comment on Pyatt’s case, said spokesperson Megan Peters. 

Troopers did not provide information on his blood-alcohol level or other results from presumed toxicology tests. In a release at the time of the crash, troopers said it was unknown if drugs or alcohol were factors. 

Peters also could not provide information on why it took six months for charges to be filed. A call to Kenai District Attorney Scot Leaders seeking information was not returned by press time.

Angelica and Satterwhite had to be flown by medevac helicopter from the scene to Anchorage. By mid January Angelica had six surgeries at Providence Alaska Medical Center, Anchorage. The tragedy elicited widespread community support for Haakenson, with Go Fund Me and spaghetti feed fundraisers. The Go Fund Me effort alone raised $62,000 within weeks of the crash. Fundraisers also have continued, including a raffle started by one of the first people to respond to the crash, Bob Baker.

Angelica has been adapting to prosthetics, her aunt said, and also uses a wheelchair.

“Nothing’s going to stop her from doing anything,” Emily Haakenson said. “She’s very spirited, very strong. She’s just an amazing girl.”

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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