Kodiak resident dies in hit-and-run during Saturday’s tsunami evacuation

Flowers left on July 17, 2023 at the scene of a fatal hit-and-run collision in Kodiak near Rezanof Drive and Mill Bay Road. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

A Kodiak woman died in a hit-and-run collision during Saturday’s tsunami warning and evacuation, amid a dense late-night flow of vehicle and pedestrian traffic to higher ground.

Kodiak police have identified the woman who died Saturday night as 45-year-old Vanessa Jean Amox, but friends on Facebook named her as Vanessa Malutin-McCormick. She was hit by a truck near the 300 block of East Rezanof Drive at Mill Bay Road, within a half hour of tsunami sirens going off in the wake of the quake which struck about 60 miles south of Sand Point shortly before 11 p.m.

Police solicited the public’s help that night to find the driver of the truck. Kodiak police Lt. Francis de la Fuente said witness accounts and private security cameras helped them track down the person involved.

We’ve located the truck, our patrol division and detective was able to piece together the parts and was able to track the vehicle that same night,” de la Fuente said. “We were able to communicate and make the interview already.”

De la Fuente thanked the public for their help so far. He said the investigation is ongoing and no one has been charged yet.

According to De la Fuente, traffic was heavier than during previous emergency warnings, partly because more people were downtown. 

“We had a lot of people walking, going up to the high school from downtown, and it was a Saturday,” he said. “We have apartment complexes from the canneries and businesses downtown that we needed to evacuate.”

He said one big systemic difference this time was the text notifications from the National Weather Service that buzzed residents’ phones before the sirens went off.

“The biggest difference for me personally was the notification from the state,” de la Fuente said. “When our phones have that obnoxious beep that everybody hears to wake you up that there is a tsunami, then we followed up with the tsunami siren.”

Kodiak police recommend residents prepare for future tsunamis by maintaining emergency kits containing two weeks’ worth of supplies like clothes, water and food. 

Since Saturday, some people have left flowers near the accident site. A GoFundMe was also shared on social media to help the victim’s family cover funeral expenses.

Previous articleAnother campaign complaint filed against opponents of Alaska ranked choice voting
Next articleJuneau kayaker drowns in Mendenhall Lake