Man dies after driving into crane

Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A man reported to have been driving erratically died Tuesday evening when his car jumped a median and crashed head-on into a crane.

Police had received a call of a possible drunken driver shortly after 6 p.m., said Sgt. Paul Honeman.

Minutes later, witnesses watched as the compact car crossed over a concrete median. The car clipped a tractor-trailer and then rammed head-on into the crane, owned by Alaska Crane Service.

The crane pushed the car back about 20 yards.

Tani Stam, who said she was traveling about five cars behind the crane, said a huge plume of smoke quickly covered the road. Stam said she stopped, grabbed a fire extinguisher from her car, and ran to the crash. The smoke was so thick at first that she could not see the car squashed under the front end of the crane, she said.

About a dozen people rushed to try to rescue the driver of the car, Stam said, which ended up with about two-thirds of it under the crane. Flames engulfed the front of the car, however, and no one could reach it, she said.

The crane driver declined to give his name to the Anchorage Daily News.

The body will likely be turned over to the state medical examiner's office, Honeman said.

Police said Wednesday morning they had learned the dead man was a diabetic. They are investigating to determine whether a diabetic episode may have led to the erratic driving.

The man's next-of-kin is out of state and his name will be released after notification.

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