Driver was high on THC during deadly 2022 Seward Highway crash, charges say

a hat
An Alaska State Trooper hat (File/Alaska Public Media)

An Anchorage man stands accused of killing his passenger in a head-on collision on the Seward Highway last summer, during which prosecutors say he was impaired by marijuana.

Lester Wilde Jr., 47, faces one count each of manslaughter and driving under the influence, plus three counts of third-degree assault, in a crash that left Jeffrey Andrews of Anchorage dead at the age of 46.

Last month, Wilde was also accused of biting off part of his nephew’s finger during a fight in Clam Gulch and charged with drunken driving in that incident.

According to a charging document in the manslaughter case, unsealed Thursday, the Aug. 8 collision took place near Turnagain Pass. Alaska State Troopers found Wilde’s Toyota sedan split in two, after witnesses said it crossed into the oncoming lanes and struck a motorhome at high speed.

When a responding trooper reached the crash, another driver had placed a blue tarp over the front of the sedan, covering Andrews’ body.

“(The trooper) located the speedometer and saw that the speedometer read 110 miles per hour and was stuck in that position,” prosecutors wrote.

Wilde and another passenger in the sedan, as well as two people in the motorhome, were injured in the crash. A girl in the motorhome struck her head and later told doctors she suffered headaches, according to the charges.

Wilde spoke with troopers at an Anchorage hospital, and he said he had been driving back from a canceled fishing trip to Kenai. He estimated his speed during the collision at 70 mph and said the sedan had hydroplaned due to ruts and a wet road surface. 

“Wilde said no one consumed alcohol, but admitted that he and Andrews vaped THC at ‘’7-8’’ o’clock,” prosecutors wrote. “Wilde said he was a 5 on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest he’s ever been. He claimed ‘’the ruts, the ruts pulled me, kept pulling.’’”

Wilde’s surviving passenger, also being treated at the hospital, told troopers that they had been traveling 75 mph and regularly “taking a couple of hits from a vape” as Wilde drove, the charges say.

Prosecutors say Wilde’s blood tested positive for two THC compounds.

Prosecutors in the August 2022 manslaughter case noted Wilde’s assault and drunken driving case from Clam Gulch this May.

“Given his continued felony and driving under the influence conduct, the State asserts that Wilde is a significant danger to the public,” prosecutors wrote.

Court records show Wilde made an initial court appearance May 15 in Kenai on the Clam Gulch charges, and was released after posting $5,000 bail. He was listed Tuesday as under supervised custody.

Chris Klint is a web producer and breaking news reporter at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at Read more about Chris here.

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