Nenana police chief survives rollover

Posted: Thursday, January 03, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Nenana Police Chief Milt Haken emerged unscathed from a Monday morning Parks Highway accident that demolished a department Chevrolet Caprice -- half of the two-car Nenana Police fleet.

Haken was behind the wheel of the 1987 car at around 9:30 a.m. on the way to Fairbanks on police business when he said he hit a patch of ice about 18 miles north of Nenana.

''The roads are slick,'' he said. ''I got an ice spot coming out of a curve.''

Haken said his front passenger-side wheel hit a snow berm. The car went into a spin and was facing backward when it went off the road and down a steep embankment, flipping once before coming to rest right side up against a stand of trees.

Haken was not hurt.

''I was wearing a seat belt and I wasn't really going that fast,'' he said. He crawled out the passenger-side front door, called Alaska State Troopers and waited for a friend driving behind him to stop and assist.

Troopers estimated the car sustained $10,000 worth of damage.

The accident leaves the two-person Nenana Police Department with only one usable vehicle, but not for long. According to Haken, the department had ordered a new 2002 Ford Crown Victoria to replace the Caprice earlier this year and it recently arrived in Anchorage. It just has to be picked up.

The Caprice, Haken said, was to be kept around as a backup car. He's not sure what the department will use now.

Haken said the accident gave him a reminder of the ordeals of the victims of car accidents, to which he routinely responds.

''I'm thankful to be alive,'' he said. ''It just gives you a whole new appreciation and empathy for folks that have accidents.''

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