Kenai man found walking along Seward Highway after overnight crash

  • By DAN BALMER
  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 11:06pm
  • News

A Kenai man, who initially reported he had been in a plane crash near Summit Lake along the Seward Highway, was one of three people involved in a single-vehicle accident early Tuesday morning.

Denis Straughn, 43, flagged down a vehicle near Mile 105 of the Sterling Highway at 3:54 a.m. and stated he had been in a plane crash, according to a dispatch report from the Alaska State Troopers.

Troopers, along with the Anchorage Fire Department responded, but were unable to locate wreckage of a plane crash, said trooper spokesperson Megan Peters.

Straughn was taken to Providence Medical Center in Anchorage for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. During an interview with troopers, Straughn said he was a passenger in a pickup truck traveling from Anchorage to Soldotna, Peters said.

“He was confused and disoriented because he was sleeping at the time of the wreck,” she said. “It snowed overnight and he got out and walked in the cold for sometime.”

Straughn told troopers he recalled being with another person in the truck and identified the person as Harley Davidson, according to the report.

Ten minutes before 7 a.m. the Anchorage Fire Department notified troopers that crews had located a wrecked pickup truck down an embankment near Mile 99 of the Seward Highway, Peters said. Searchers found two people, a man and woman, inside. They were not seriously injured but unable to get out of the wreckage, according to the report.

Responders freed both individuals and transported them to Providence with non-life threatening injuries, according to the report.

The driver of the truck was identified as Harley W. Davidson, 56, of Anchorage. Troopers determined Davidson had fallen asleep at the wheel and the vehicle went off the road and down a ravine, Peters said.

Peters said troopers don’t know when the crash occurred, but received a call around 3:20 a.m. from someone who reported they received a call from a cell phone with people screaming but did not get a location or description. Thirty minutes later, Straughn was found. The two people spent at least three hours trapped in the truck from the time Straughn was picked up to when the truck was discovered, she said.

“Considering the huge delay, this is the best possible outcome,” she said. “It is important to remind people if you’re driving through the night and get tired, consider changing plans.”

The case is under investigation, but Peters said troopers do not believe alcohol or drugs are a factor in the crash. She said there is no substantial evidence to contradict that the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

Reach Dan Balmer at daniel.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com

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