KYUK may have new information about a fatal vehicle collision that occurred last spring.
Several months ago, off-duty Bethel Police Sergeant Kadri Limani struck two pedestrians with his car while driving at night. The collision injured Elia Anderson and fatally injured Julia Stevens, who died several days later in Anchorage. In their report on the incident, the police found neither Limani nor the pedestrians he hit to be at fault, but a second police report from an earlier incident may shed further light on the case.
On a dark, clear night in April, Jim Wycoff was driving home when he saw three people shambling alongside the highway. He says they were in the pedestrian lane, but that one of them, a man, was weaving a little into the street. Wycoff thought he might be intoxicated and slowed down.
As Wycoff drove down Eddie Hoffman Highway, he said that another one of the pedestrians, a woman, ran out in front of his car.
“As she moved out into the traffic lane I came to a stop,” said Wycoff. “She was right there in front of the vehicle and put her hands on the vehicle. I got out of the car and said, ‘You need to get out of the road!’ I thought, ‘Jeez - I just got close to hitting somebody.’”
According to Wycoff, the woman said nothing and walked back to her friends on the side of the highway. He watched her and the others walk away, then pulled over and called the police. As Wycoff waited for them to arrive, he said that he saw the woman jump out in front of a car again.
“They swerved, went around her. Then she went out in front of another vehicle,” said Wycoff. “I watched this happen with five vehicles in a row as I waited for the police.”
“I thought, ‘Jeez, I wish they’d hurry up!’” he added. “This person’s gonna get hurt.”
According to a police report provided by Bethel police to KYUK, that woman was Julia Stevens. When police personnel arrived at the scene, she said that her boyfriend, Elia Anderson, had “told her to jump into traffic and to kill herself.” So, “she told Elia she would.”
She was trying to get Anderson angry, she explained to Community Safety Patroller Josh Akerelrea. He asked her why. “Because he didn’t want me,” Stevens said.
The report states that Stevens admitted she had been drinking, but said that Anderson had not. It is unclear if Anderson was ever with her during the incident. By the time the police arrived at the scene, neither of the two people who Wycoff says he saw walking with Stevens were still there.
This happened on April 7. Three weeks later, on April 22, Sergeant Limani struck Stevens and Anderson in the roadway with his car, killing her and injuring him.
The police report on this earlier, April 7 incident was sent to KYUK by Police Dispatcher Natalie Hayes. Both she and the personnel who responded to the incident - Officer Justin Ulak and CSP Akerelrea - declined our requests for comment.
Though Stevens was allegedly seen jumping in front of cars on April 7, the police report was not written until May 18. That’s over a month later, and two weeks after Bethel PD completed its investigation of Sergeant Limani’s fatal accident. According to sources at the Bethel Police Department, the April 7 report was most likely written at a later date because officers prioritize writing up criminal reports first and Officer Ulak may not have gotten around to writing it for several weeks. It is well known that the department is understaffed.
Elia Anderson declined our requests to comment on the April 7 incident. In a Facebook Messenger exchange, he wrote that he is still mourning for Stevens. “The truth is I don’t know what she saw in me,” he wrote. “But I miss her dearly.”
Sergeant Limani did respond to KYUK after our story on the police report concerning his collision with the pedestrians. In an email, he wrote that his “deepest and sincere condolences go out to the Stevens family.” Limani said that he received several life-threatening messages on social media following the accident. He also alleged that City Manager Peter Williams and City Attorney Patty Burley went beyond policy guidelines and treated him unfairly by releasing his name to the public.
In an emailed response, Burley wrote that she was sorry Limani felt that way, but stood by the City’s decisions. She also “still strongly feels that [Limani] is an excellent officer.”