Drunk driver from Homer kills woman in Valdez, police say

Apr 9, 2018

Valdez police say a drunk driver ran over and killed a woman Sunday morning outside of a local bar. Police arrested Ero Walli for allegedly striking and killing Chellsie Hoffman, a 31-year-old mother of four, with his pickup before fleeing the scene.

According to a press release from the Valdez Police Department, officers responded to a hit-and-run call involving a pedestrian outside of the Boardroom Bar at 2:30 a.m. Sunday. KBBI reached out to Valdez Police, but officers were not immediately available for comment.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, court documents detailed that a friend told Walli he was too drunk to drive, but he got into his Dodge Ram anyways. Court documents say Walli struck Hoffman as she stood on the sidewalk near the front of the bar. Walli then allegedly stopped and then drove over Hoffman.

Valdez Police say the Valdez Fire Department responded to the scene and transported her to Providence Valdez Medical Center. Hoffman was pronounced dead roughly an hour after the incident, according to police.

Police say they were able to track Walli’s vehicle to a residence on Falcon Avenue where he was arrested and taken to the Valdez Jail. Nearly three hours after he allegedly struck Hoffman, Walli’s blood alcohol level was at .305 percent, more than three times the legal limit.

According to the ADN, court documents say Walli initially denied that he had been drinking or had gone to the bar for drinks. Police charged Walli with two felony counts Monday for manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident. Police also charged him with driving while intoxicated and possessing a weapon while under the influence, both misdemeanors.

According to Walli’s Facebook page, he currently lives in Valdez, but he is originally from the Homer area.

Walli was the director of Marine operations at Crowley Maritime Corporation, which currently provides tug services for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company. Crowley said in an emailed statement that its sincerest condolences go out to Hoffman’s family’s and to everyone who is affected by her death. The company says Walli has been terminated from his position.

Valdez Police say Walli appeared for arraignment on Monday and bail was set at $100,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled on April 18.

The Valdez community is mourning the death of Hoffman and there has been an outflow of support for her family. A Valdez coffee shop, Klondike Coffee, is donating its sales Monday to the family, and the community is providing meals to Hoffman’s family. Some on social media are also calling for the Boardroom Bar’s liquor license to be revoked.