Crime Scene

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Diabetic driver leads police chase on Glenn

A commuter “approaching diabetic shock” led police on a miles-long chase outbound on the Glenn Highway Monday night, forcing officers to push his pickup off the road and slash its tires to stop him, according to Anchorage police.

The 2008 Dodge pickup had been driven erratically from Ingra Street to where it was stopped near Eklutna, and police initially thought the driver, Palmer resident Zachary Stevenson, 32, was drunk.

“He didn’t have any alcohol in him,” police Lt. Dave Parker said. “He just had a medical issue, but it could have been a very dangerous one if he’d have kept going. He could have driven off the bridge.”

Medics treated Stevenson at the scene and he quickly recovered. He was not cited, Parker said.

Police first learned of the problem vehicle after a concerned citizen called about 8:50 p.m. to report it was stopped in traffic facing the wrong way on Ingra Street near Second Avenue, Parker said. That driver again saw the vehicle, this time swerving, near Boniface Parkway and began following it.

The truck nearly hit a red minivan and a guardrail as it made its way along the Glenn at speeds between 45 and 55 mph, Parker said. The driving got more erratic as the vehicle went on, with its speed dipping down to 35 mph at times.

Police caught up with Stevenson near Mirror Lake and tried to stop him. At one point, Stevenson seemed ready to pull over but then kept going, Parker said. After it became clear the vehicle wasn’t stopping, police decided to take it out about a half mile before Eklutna.

“The officer, what he did was actually kind of just nudge the car off the road into the ditch, and jumped out and slashed his tires, which was a good thing,” Parker said. “He ceases to be compliant and he tries to drive away with both rear tires slashed.”

Police got a cruiser in front of the vehicle and blocked it, he said. The driver’s side door was pinned with a patrol car and Stevenson would not get out, so police broke out the passenger window to unlock the door.

They pulled Stevenson out and handcuffed him, then found he was nearing diabetic shock, which can cause confusion and be mistaken for intoxication, Parker said. Stevenson told police he was an insulin-dependent diabetic and hadn’t eaten since about 1 p.m.

“Zachary was checked by medics and given some glucose to raise his blood sugar,” Parker said. “He said all he could remember was leaving work and the next thing he knew he was in the ambulance. …

“He didn’t do anything wrong; he just needed to monitor his sugar better.”

An attempt to reach Stevenson Tuesday was not successful.

Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.

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