Exhaust from idling vehicles shrouds emergency workers from Central Emergency Services and the Alaska State Troopers at the scene of a fatal traffic accident on the Sterling Highway south of Sterling Friday afternoon.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
David Chapman, 43, of Sterling, was pronounced dead on the scene Friday evening after his car collided with a tractor trailer on the Sterling Highway.
Acoording to a report by the Alaska State Troopers, Chapman, who was driving an older model maroon Oldsmobile, was heading north on the highway. The accident occurred when Chapman tried to stop for a vehicle turning left onto Evergreen Road near Mile 85 at 4:18 p.m. Jack Brittain, 62, of Chugiak, was driving an 18-wheel low boy tractor trailer heading south when Chapman's vehicle fishtailed into his lane. The trailer hit the driver's side of Chapman's car. According to Gary Hale, fire marshal for Central Emergency Services in Soldotna, the car's engine and driveline were found 100 to 150 feet from the remainer of the vehicle.
"It was so mangled up that you couldn't tell," Hale said. "As I moved around the car and saw the devastation on the driver's side from the engine compartment it was phenomenal."
Traffic backed up on either side of the highway, which was closed for about five hours.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
At the original assessment of the incident, workers feared that there may have been children in the rear of Chapman's vehicle, Hale said. Two car seats, a booster seat and a convertible seat, along with children's clothing were found in the back seat of the car.
"We did a search from the impact area until about all the way back to where the 18-wheeler was and we found nothing as far as a second child," Hale said. "We searched the area quite thoroughly."
No children were found at the time and, according to Megan Peters, public information officer for the Alaska State Troopers, everyone has been accounted for. Chapman was the only individual in the vehicle.
It is unknown whether Brittain sustained injuries.
"It appeared at the time that he was OK," Peters said. "The drivers of those semis tend to be OK in these situations."
Peters said that there is still a lot of work to do to find out what caused the crash.
"It's still an ongoing investigation," she said. "When the roads reopen that doesn't mean the investigation is over."
Toxicologies are being conducted and could take four to six weeks because they have to be sent out of the state for review.
To accommodate the search and the investigation of the wreck, troopers closed the highway until 9:10 p.m. and began routing traffic through Robinson Loop, causing traffic delays.
Hannahlee Allers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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