After moving back to Soldotna at the end of August to begin a new job, the future looked bright for Connor Jezorski until tragedy struck.
On his way to work at 7 a.m. Sept. 9, Connor Jezorski’s silver Toyota pickup crossed the opposite lane, went into the ditch and hit a culvert. The impact caused the truck to become airborne, roll over and crash through a fence at the Soldotna Airport.
Central Emergency Services and Soldotna police responded to the crash and found Connor Jezorski partially ejected from the single-vehicle crash. Responders declared him deceased on the scene. Soldotna police Sgt. Duane Kant said Connor Jezorski was not wearing a seatbelt.
Mike Jezorski was out hunting with friends the day of his son’s accident. He returned to his campsite near Cooper Lake and found his daughter, Jess Jezorski, who came out to find him and break the news.
“That was the longest drive of my life,” he said. “We are all devastated. There are no words to describe the pain of losing our son.”
His father said Connor, 21, had just started a new job at Conam Construction Company in Nikiski as a welding apprentice. The general construction company performs maintenance of oil and gas facilities and pipelines.
“He was a good welder and hard worker,” said Mike Jezorski, owner of Jezorski Builders in Soldotna. “I was extremely proud of how hard he worked to get a good job.”
After working in the family business with his father and brother Scott, Connor decided to pursue a welding career.
Connor received his welding certification at Kenai Peninsula College in 2013. In between the semester course he spent next two years working for NYAC Mining Company near Bethel before another job opportunity brought him back home.
KPC welding instructor Fritz Miller said Connor Jezorski was a good student and passed the plate test to become a certified welder in one semester last December.
The one-year certificate in welding technology gives students the specific training for structural and pipe welding, which is a sought after skill in the oil and gas industry, Miller said.
Connor, a 2011 graduate of Soldotna High School, moved back to his hometown to reunite with his girlfriend Serena Lee, 18, a 2013 SoHi grad. Lee had graduated beauty school in Anchorage and the two moved into a place on Funny River Road. She said they had been dating for two years and she was excited for their future together.
“He was so sweet and genuinely cared about everybody,” she said. “This has been a roller coaster week of emotions. I will be fine and then just start crying uncontrollably.”
Lee said the support from family and friends has helped her cope. She said she has spent a lot of time with the Jezorski family and has become closer with them through the tragedy. She said eventually she would probably move to Washington to be with family.
While his parents Mike and Vickie Jezorski worried about their son’s safety when he worked in a gold mine, Mike Jezorksi said maybe if he stayed in Bethel, he would still be alive today.
“I’m not sure what happened, if maybe he dozed off or what, we may never know,” he said. “There is nothing we can do about it now. We have to move on.”
According to statistics from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities released in August, traffic crashes killed 56 Alaskans during 2010 and one person died on Alaska highways every 6.5 days.
A 2011 study from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services lists unintentional injuries like a motor-vehicle accident as the third leading cause of death in Alaska.
Kant said the cause of the crash is still under investigation. Police are waiting for toxicology reports but there is no evidence to suggest drugs or alcohol played a role in the accident, he said.
Mike and Vickie Jezorski have planned a beach bonfire on Cannery Road Friday, Oct. 3 for family and friends to come together to celebrate Connor’s life. While plans for a memorial service have not been finalized yet, the family said any friends and family are welcome to come.
“He was a good kid, always with a smile on his face,” Mike Jezorski said. “He liked snowboarding, being in the woods and loved his truck. He had his whole life ahead of him.”
Reach Dan Balmer at email@example.com.