Soldotna teens die in crash: 1 area teen injured; 5-vehicle accident closes Seward Highway

Posted: Friday, August 07, 2009

Three teens from Soldotna were caught in a five-vehicle accident that took two of their lives Thursday afternoon on the Seward Highway. The third teen was injured.

Alex Baker, 19, was driving a Suzuki sedan and Rodney Rogers, 16, was a back-seat passenger when they were killed in a head-on collision with a Dodge pickup driven by Benjamin Cosper, 32, of Girdwood, near Mile 111.5 of the highway, according to Alaska State Troopers.

A second passenger in the Suzuki, Elizabeth Miller, 17, was transported to Alaska Regional Hospital for treatment of unknown injuries and is expected to survive, troopers said. Cosper was taken to Anchorage for treatment of minor injuries.

Cosper's Dodge truck was heading south when he attempted to pass a line of cars in a passing zone and pulled into oncoming traffic. A truck towing a U-Haul was traveling north and swerved to avoid the Dodge, but the Dodge clipped the trailer, causing the truck and trailer to roll. The Dodge then collided head-on with the Suzuki, which was following the truck and trailer.

An SUV following the Suzuki swerved to avoid the collision and was untouched. However, a Ford truck following the SUV was sideswiped by the Dodge. The driver and passenger of the SUV escaped injuries.

The front tire of the Dodge then came off, causing the truck to go into the ditch and hit a rock wall.

Debris from the accident was scattered a quartermile, troopers said.

The highway was closed until 5:30 p.m. while troopers conducted their investigation.

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