Investigation of Seward Highway crash ongoing

Preliminary investigation of last weekend’s accident on the Seward Highway has revealed the tour bus involved crashed into the vehicles in front of it.

It appears three vehicles were stopped in the northbound lane of the Seward Highway, waiting for the front vehicle to make a turn, when the tour bus carrying 42 passengers crashed into them from behind just after noon on Friday, according to an Alaska State Trooper dispatch.

The bus then moved into the southbound lane where it collided with a 2011 GMC Yukon driven by 55-year-old John Zollner III, of Anchorage, who was later pronounced dead at the scene.

In all, six vehicles and two trailers were involved in the accident, which shut both lanes of the Seward Highway down for 10 hours, according to the dispatch.

Lt. Rick Roberts with the troopers said Alaskan vehicle accidents are unique in that they often occur in areas without detour options or far from trooper posts and other emergency resources. He said that when troopers are able to open a lane to let traffic ease through, they do.

“A lot of times… they don’t happen in a place that we would think of as convenient,” Roberts said. “Sometimes there just isn’t a detour route.”

Roberts said long wait times for highway accidents can be attributed to several factors.

Sometimes, the accident occurs on the opposite side of a trooper’s response area, so getting resources to the crash site takes longer. Depending on the severity of the accident, troopers and medical responders sometimes have to spend more time caring for victims on scene before they can start investigating and cleaning up, he said.

“Anytime somebody dies in a car crash… we kind of elevate the type of investigation we do,” Roberts said. “Someone’s loved one… has had a tragedy befall them. We don’t like to (close the road) but we appreciate people’s patience when we do have to.”

All vehicles involved in Friday’s accident have been impounded, and the investigation is ongoing.

Reach Megan Pacer at

More in News

Alaska Rep. David Eastman, a Republican from Wasilla, sits at his desk on the Alaska House floor in Juneau, Alaska, on March 5, 2020. Alaska lawmakers are discussing whether to sanction Eastman who is also a member of the Oath Keepers far-right paramilitary organization according to the Anchorage Daily News. Eastman, who is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, confirmed with the Associated Press, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, that he joined the Oath Keepers a little over 12 years ago, “along with 38,000 others who have committed to honoring oaths we have taken.” (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)
State lawmaker could be sanctioned over Oath Keeper ties

Eastman was identified as a “life member” of the Oath Keepers last year

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
As cases surge, public health officials contemplate how to live with virus

Contact tracing and data collection will have to be reworked if COVID is here to stay

Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone can be seen on this map provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Image via
Soldotna approves filing of EEZ lawsuit brief

The lawsuit seeks to reopen commercial salmon fishing in the Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone

University of Alaska Interim President Pat Pitney, bottom left, spoke to UA students in a virtual forum on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, and was joined by several UA administrators including UA Southeast President Karen Carey, bottom left, and UA Anchorage Vice Chancellor Bruce Schultz, top left. At top right, an American Sign Language professional provides translation services. (Screenshot)
UA President: University has turned a corner on funding

System sees modest increase in budget for first time in years

Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer; Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna; Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak and Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, spoke to reporters Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, immediately following Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s State of the State address. Members of the Senate Republican leadership said they appreciated the governor’s optimism, and hoped it signaled a better relationship between the administration and the Legislature. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Lawmakers welcome tone change in governor’s address

With caveats on financials, legislators optimistic about working together

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID deaths, hospitalizations climb statewide

The total number of statewide COVID deaths is nearly equivalent to the population of Funny River.

A fisher holds a reel on the Kenai River near Soldotna on June 30, 2021. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Restrictions on sport fishing announced

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced summer sport fishing regulations Wednesday

Community agencies administer social services to those in need during the Project Homeless Connect event Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘It’s nice to be able to help folks’

Project Homeless Connect offers services, supplies to those experiencing housing instability

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce attends the March 2, 2021, borough assembly meeting at the Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers at the Borough Administration Building in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former talk-show host to manage Pierce gubernatorial campaign

Jake Thompson is a former host of KSRM’s Tall, Dark and Handsome Show and Sound-off talk-show

Most Read