ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An Anchorage police officer and three teenagers were killed Monday in a head-on collision that occurred as police were trying to stop the teens' speeding sport-utility vehicle.
Officer Justin Wollam, 28, died at the scene of the early morning accident. The collision involved Wollam's patrol car and the teens' Chevy Blazer, which had crossed the highway median strip and was headed the wrong way.
Officials in the Anchorage Police Department said Wollam had been trying to protect the public from the Blazer, which was being driven erratically throughout the city.
"He was trying to block off an exit so that they could not get on it," police spokesman Ron McGee said. "We were not pursuing them. We were monitoring their progress because they were driving on the wrong side of the road at at least three places in the city (besides the location of the crash)."
Killed were the driver of the Blazer, Robert Esper, 19; Makayla Lewis, 16; and another teenaged girl, whose identity was being withheld by police.
Another passenger, 15-year-old Savannah Fielding, was hospitalized with a skull fracture and was reported to be in critical condition.
All the teens were from Anchorage, the police said.
Patrol officers had been following Esper's Blazer for about a half-hour before the crash occurred, according to police reports. The monitoring began when one officer tried to stop the SUV but Esper sped away.
At one point, Esper stopped his vehicle and three teen-agers ran out of it. Police stopped two of them, including one against whom there were outstanding arrest warrants.
Wollam is the seventh Anchorage police officer killed in the line of duty since Alaska became a state in 1959. The last fatality occurred five years ago.