A car belonging to Homer resident Tom Sulczynski is trapped on a collapsed section of the offramp of Minnesota Drive in Anchorage, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Sulczynski and passenger Bekah Taylor escaped the car without injury. Back-to-back earthquakes measuring 7.0 and 5.8 rocked buildings and buckled roads Friday morning in Anchorage, prompting people to run from their offices or seek shelter under office desks, while a tsunami warning had some seeking higher ground. (AP Photo/Dan Joling)

A car belonging to Homer resident Tom Sulczynski is trapped on a collapsed section of the offramp of Minnesota Drive in Anchorage, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Sulczynski and passenger Bekah Taylor escaped the car without injury. Back-to-back earthquakes measuring 7.0 and 5.8 rocked buildings and buckled roads Friday morning in Anchorage, prompting people to run from their offices or seek shelter under office desks, while a tsunami warning had some seeking higher ground. (AP Photo/Dan Joling)

Homer residents abandon vehicle in quake chasm

Homer residents got a rough wake up call Friday morning in the form of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rattled the Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage, and surrounding areas.

Some Homerites, however, got a bigger shock as they traveled through Anchorage Friday morning.

Tom Sulczynski, an IT analyst with the City of Homer, and Bekah Taylor, who works at the Rum Locker, were in a car on the way to the Ted Stevens International Airport when the quake struck. Sulczynski was driving on the off ramp leading from Minnesota Drive to Walter J. Hickel Parkway.

“I thought I either had a flat tire…,” he said. “Then I realized, no, the way the car was driving, it didn’t feel like a flat tire. I thought it was maybe a broken axle. So I was kind of trying to get around cars to pull over, and then I saw, you know, the road kind of breaking up around me, so I realized it was an earthquake.”

Taylor, Sulczynski’s passenger, said they knew it wasn’t a flat tire when they saw other cars stopping on the off ramp.

“We’re slowing down because we thought that something was wrong with the car,” Taylor said. “And then finally we got ahead a little bit and basically we started seeing like the side of the road, like it was collapsing — the side of the road that we were on. And you could see it getting deeper and deeper.”

“I turned around and looked out back and you could see all the chunky pieces of the road that we had just driven on, like, two seconds before,” she continued. “And then we just stopped, and that’s where the car is right now.”

The pair are flying to Seattle to take care of some business with a storage unit Taylor has there, and then on to California for a short vacation to visit Sulczynski’s family. They had to abandon the vehicle on the road after climbing to a safe spot.

“There’s a slab that was in front of the car that kind of was leaning from, like, the side that we were on … and so we just kind of climbed over that to get out of there,” Sulczynski said.

Sulczynski said emergency services showed up about 20 minutes after the quake.

“They didn’t really do much except take a statement and get all our information,” he said. “There’s really not much they could do. My car is still there. It’s stuck and I haven’t really figured out where to go from here to get it out of there.”

Sulczynski said a passerby offered them a ride on to the airport. He hasn’t been able to get confirmation from the Anchorage Police or local towing companies that his vehicle will be removed from the road.

“I have OnStar … as part of my, like, package with the car, and their response was, …’we don’t do earthquake recovery,’” Sulczynski said. “I called my insurance company and they basically just gave me phone numbers for … towing companies in town, you know in Anchorage. They weren’t really wanting to do anything either. It’s kind of frustrating.”

He said he and Taylor will continue on with their planned trip and attempt to recover the car remotely. Most of the flights are delayed, Sulczynski said.

“It’s pretty chill,” Taylor said of the scene at the airport. “When we first got here there was like a water line (that) broke by the Starbucks over at Alaska Airlines, and it was just like raining inside the building, and they were mopping it up.”

Another Homer resident, Seth Spencer, is also at the airport awaiting a flight back to Homer. Spencer, education program coordinator for the Center for Alaska Coastal Studies, was in Anchorage for the Alaska After School Conference with fellow educator Henry Rieske, were staying at the Sheraton Hotel, where the conference was being held.

At the time of the tremblor, however, Spencer said they were in a café across the street. He said power went out almost immediately after the earthquake began.

“Thing were falling off the walls,” he said. “Most of us went under tables.”

Someone shouted for everyone to get out, so Spencer and Rieske exited the café. Spencer said there was water damage to the hotel, where pipes had burst, causing ceiling tiles to fall down.

Spencer and Rieske got a Lyft to the airport, where they were already scheduled to fly back to Homer this evening. They tried to get an earlier flight, but Spencer said they’ve all been canceled.

“We were both supposed to present today at the conference,” Spencer said.

Once they realized the power was out and the conference was canceled, Spencer said he and Rieske decided there was no reason to stick around. Coincidentally, he said members of NOAA were also in attendance at the conference, and were able to let everyone know they were safe from a tsunami at their location.

“I think overall it sounds like nobody really got injured hopefully,” Spencer said.

More in News

Ryan Tunks works at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn OՈara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘The first, first responders’

Dispatchers hope service isn’t lost in political dispute

FILE - In this March 12, 2020 file photo, Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, addresses reporters at a news conference in Anchorage, Alaska. Alaska on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases, a day after the state’s largest hospital announced it had entered crisis protocol and began rationing care. When many people become ill at the same time, it overwhelms the state’s health care system. "And then we start to see excess mortality where more people dying from other things such as heart attacks and strokes and car accidents and bear maulings or whatever else happens," Zink said. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)
Zink: Health care workers face increasing hostility

Health care professionals with the state have borne the brunt of scrutiny… Continue reading

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru clinic at Evraz Place in Regina on Thursday, April 15, 2021. Saskatchewan’s only children’s hospital is opening its pediatric intensive care unit to younger adults who have COVID-19 as the province runs out of critical care beds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor
Weekly vaccine lottery winners announced

The Alaska Chamber of Commerce announced the second week’s lottery winners Thursday,… Continue reading

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
State reports 7 recent COVID-19 deaths

The state Department of Health and Social Services reported another seven recent… Continue reading

Skilak Lake can be seen from Hideout Trail in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on July 5, 2020, in Alaska. (Photograph by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Refuge cancels ‘Fall Fun Day’ due to state of COVID

Peninsula Clarion The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge canceled its weekend “Fall Fun… Continue reading

Ahlberg to take over as OEM manager

Brenda Ahlberg is the new emergency manager for the Kenai Peninsula Borough.… Continue reading

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Nikiski North Star goes to universal masks

Universal indoor masking for staff and students was instituted at Nikiski North… Continue reading

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Another COVID death, more than 1,200 new cases reported statewide

Statewide, there were 213 COVID-related hospitalizations as of Wednesday.

Candidates for Soldotna City Council attend a forum at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna council candidates discuss city development, COVID response at forum

Jordan Chilson, Erick Hugarte, Dan Nelson and Micah Shields participated in the event.

Most Read