Alaska State Troopers say a Wasilla man faces vehicle theft and escape charges, after suffering hypothermia and frostbite in an attempt to evade troopers near Cantwell Tuesday afternoon.
Troopers first became involved in the case just after 2 p.m., when they were informed that a vehicle was in a ditch at Mile 201 of the Parks Highway. A Tuesday AST dispatch says troopers later determined that the vehicle was stolen from Anchorage, and that its driver was 20-year-old Samuel A. Wade.
“(Wade) was provided a ride from the scene by a passing motorist,” troopers wrote. “When AST conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle, Wade fled the vehicle on foot in the Cantwell area.”
AST says Wade was ultimately found by a K-9 unit, after one hour and two miles of tracking through woods in temperatures that fell to 20 degrees below zero. He was subsequently treated by Cantwell emergency medical services and Fairbanks Memorial Hospital staff.
According to AST spokesperson Beth Ipsen, troopers encountered Wade multiple times during the tracking incident.
"He was actually found outside a cabin, then fled again," Ipsen said. "He had a warrant out for his arrest, so it sounds like he didn't want to go back to jail."
Ipsen says that it's quite possible to become disoriented in unfamiliar areas, even those relatively close to a roadway like the one where Wade was found. She says the initial stages of temperature loss can also affect a person's thought processes.
"Sometimes you don't realize how cold you are -- you feel hypothermic, but you don't realize," Ipsen said.
Wade is being held without bail at the Fairbanks Correctional Center, on charges including one count each of first-degree vehicle theft and criminal trespassing, second-degree escape, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.