- Associated Press - Monday, April 14, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A well-known carver from Savoonga has died in a hit-and-run accident in Nome, and charges are pending against the driver.

Wagner Wongittilin, 54, was hit by an SUV at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Bering Street just after 1 a.m. Saturday, Nome police said in a release. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly after, the Anchorage Daily News (https://is.gd/VZIUy3) reported.

Police said they and members of the city’s volunteer ambulance department arrived to find Wongittilin “lying in the roadway near an unoccupied SUV that had sustained recent damage to the front end.”

Authorities said the driver of the SUV had abandoned the vehicle, but came back to the area a short time later to report the accident to police.

Police said charges are pending following a review by the district attorney’s office.

The state Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an autopsy.

Wongittilin’s death marks a loss for the arts community, said Andrew James, who manages Maruskiya’s of Nome, his family’s Alaska Native art store.

The store has worked with Wongittilin and his family members for years. James expressed admiration for Wongittilin’s detail-oriented, innovative techniques, such as layering baleen.

“What stood out about Wagner on a personal level was really his kindness and his humility,” James said. “He was very gentle.”

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Information from: Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, https://www.adn.com

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