Bootleggers Arrested After 25-Mile Boat Chase in Alaska

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Two men led an Alaska State Trooper on a 25-mile chase on the Kuskokwim River before they were arrested in Upper Kalskag.

Alaska Wildlife Trooper Tim Hall responded to a report Saturday of a drunken driver operating a boat near Aniak.

There were two men in the boat, who took turns at the wheel during the 25-mile pursuit, during which troopers say the men also tied to ram the troopers' boat.

"That's probably the longest I've ever heard of one, but you can't put out spike strips on the river and put out their tires like you can on the highway system," said Sgt. Nathan Sheets, troopers' Aniak post supervisor. "You can't radio ahead for assistance. It just doesn't exist. You're kind of at the mercy of them until they stop or do something stupid."

Hall tried to make the initial stop, but troopers say 58-year-old David Passamika of Kalskag initiated the chase when he took the wheel.

The chase exceeded speeds of 40 mph and included efforts to ram the boat into the troopers' boat, Sheets said.

After about 15 miles, the fleeing driver lost control.

"It appeared that he either passed out or slumped out from behind the steering wheel," Sheets said.

The other man then took over the wheel and continued the chase for another 10 miles, and also tried to ram the troopers' boat.

When the boats arrived at Upper Kalskag, a village on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta 348 miles west of Anchorage, the driver grounded the vessel on the bank. Hall pulled up next to the men and arrested them.

Hall said he found about five bottles of vodka in their possession, which is illegal in Upper Kalskag, a local option community.

No one was injured during the chase, nor was there any property damage.

Both Passamika and Thomas Napoka, 56, of Tuluksak, was charged with driving under the influence, eluding, third-degree assault, importing alcohol and reckless operation of watercraft.

Troopers also charged Passamika with felony driving under the influence because he has two prior DUI convictions, harassment and disorderly conduct for spitting at the trooper and taunting him.