The driver of a van that crashed on July 4th, 2016 in Petersburg has been charged with murder and manslaughter for the deaths of two of young women in that accident.
A grand jury in Juneau Thursday returned a five-count indictment against 24-year-old William Christopher “Chris” Allen. Allen is facing two charges of murder in the second degree and two charges of manslaughter for allegedly causing the death of 18-year-old Molly Parks and 19-year-old Marie Giesbrecht.
Another passenger Catherine Cardenas was injured in the accident. Allen is also charged with assault in the first degree.
The van belonged to the Petersburg borough and the four were working for the borough to help put on the Parks and Recreation Department’s Independence Day celebration. The van went off the road near Petersburg’s South Harbor just before 7:30 that morning. Two were killed in the crash and two were injured.
All four are graduates of Petersburg High School. Parks was the daughter of R.D. and Madonna Parks. Giesbrecht was the daughter of Borough Manager, Steve Giesbrecht and his wife, Mary Rokey. Following the accident, the Fourth of July celebration was cancelled and the community held a candlelight vigil. The Alaska State Troopers investigated the accident.
Allen was arrested in Fairbanks Friday, July 21 according to a press release from the Petersburg Police Department. His bail was initially set at $50,000. The police department press release says, “our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved during this difficult time.”
He had a hearing Saturday before a judge in Fairbanks.
Allen is scheduled to be arraigned in Petersburg Tuesday, July 25 at 3:30 in front of superior court judge William Carey. He is in custody in Fairbanks and will appear by telephone. Allen’s attorney declined to comment on the charges.
(Editor’s note: this story has been corrected to show location of the arraignment in the Petersburg court house)