Soldotna woman critically injured in fatal wreck on Seward Highway

Posted: Friday, July 06, 2001

A head-on collision has resulted in one death and one person in critical condition.

Alaska State Troopers, along with Emergency Medical Service from Moose Pass, Cooper Landing, Seward, Bear Creek, Girdwood and Anchorage, all responded to a head-on collision Thursday morning at about 6 a.m. at Mile 53 of the Seward Highway, about seven miles north of Summit Lake Lodge.

Stephanie Jo Smith, 19, of Willow, driving a 1993 Ford Taurus, was declared dead at the scene. Her passenger, Haleena Y. Hanson, 19, of Soldotna, was taken to Providence Hospital in Anchorage. Late Thursday afternoon, Hanson was undergoing surgery that did not appear life threatening. Her mother was at the hospital with her.

The trooper on the scene reported to Greg Wilkinson, trooper spokesperson, that it is a miracle Hanson survived considering how the car was crushed around her.

The five occupants in the other vehicle, a 2000 Dodge pickup, suffered minor injuries.

Michael Lowdermilk, driver of the pickup, and one of his passengers, Dale Savage, 37, was not injured. His other passengers, Gloria Stepetin, 29, Rosemarie Boutsauakis, 29, and James Nichols, 9, all from Anchorage, were taken to Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna, where they were treated and released.

All the occupants of both vehicles were wearing seat belts.

The accident closed the highway to traffic in both directions until about 9 a.m.

Initial investigation indicates that the driver of the Taurus lost control and crossed over the center line, striking the Dodge pickup, head-on.

Weather was poor, with heavy rain and fog. The LifeGuard helicopter was unable to fly due to the weather, so all injured were transported on the ground.

Troopers are continuing their investigation of the crash.

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