Not so easy riders

Kenai judge, 4 others hurt in weekend motorcycle accidents

Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Newly appointed Kenai District Court Judge Sharon Illsley was one of several motorcyclists injured in separate incidents on the Kenai Peninsula area over the weekend.

Illsley, 50, whose address was listed by Alaska State Troopers as Anchorage, reportedly was thrown 50 feet from the motorcycle she was riding at Mile 4.5 of Funny River Road around noon Saturday.

Initially she was reported to be unconscious and the Flight for Life helicopter was launched from Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna. By the time the helicopter arrived and landed on Funny River Road, she had regained consciousness and was reported to be suffering from a broken left wrist. She was flown to the hospital for treatment.

Also on Saturday, troopers responded to a report of a motor-vehicle collision involving several motorcycles and a pickup truck at Mile 49.5 of the Seward Highway near Summit Lake.

A group of nine motorcycles was heading south when a black bear attempted to cross the highway. The bear stopped in the middle of the road and the motorcyclists swerved to avoid hitting it.

At the same time, a 2002 Dodge pickup, driven by Timothy Lebling, 39, of Seward, was heading north when Lebling saw the bear and swerved.

The driver's side of the pickup collided with a 2007 Harley Davidson driven by Michael Sweet, 47, of Anchorage, who was thrown from the bike and received non-life-threatening injuries to his head, neck, arms and legs. Sweet was taken to Providence Seward Medical Center.

Two other motorcycles were also involved in the incident: a 2004 Harley Davidson driven by Randall Hames, 56, of Anchorage, and a 2007 Harley Davidson driven by Gilbert Wilson, 48, of Anchorage. Hames and Wilson were treated for minor injuries at the scene.

All three motorcycles received major damage, according to troopers. The Seward Highway was closed in both directions for about 30 minutes.

The bear was not hit, and ran off into the woods.

Early Sunday morning, Hermando P. Poage, 33, of Kenai, reportedly lost control of the 2006 Honda motorcycle he was driving at the intersection of the Sterling Highway and Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna.

Soldotna Police Sgt. Tod McGillivray said another Soldotna police officer was at the scene and saw Poage "wipe out right in the intersection." The accident occurred at 1:47 a.m.

No other vehicles were involved.

Poage was taken to Central Peninsula Hospital and then transferred to Anchorage for treatment of head and shoulder injuries. He was listed in stable condition at Alaska Native Medical Center on Monday.

Alcohol is believed to be a factor in the accident, according to McGillivray. The motorcycle was impounded.

Illsley was appointed in June to the Kenai District Court judgeship, an opening created after voters last fall decided not to retain David Landry following charges of willful misconduct brought by the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct and the recommendation of the Alaska Judicial Council that he be ousted.

Landry stepped down Feb. 2. The district court also is served by two magistrates.

All of Illsley's court cases for Monday were transferred to Magistrate Jerry Anderson's calendar. Court administrators in Anchorage said they expect to schedule Illsley's cases similarly this week and possibly into next week.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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