Tragedies strike Eagle Village family

Mary Beth Smetzer

FAIRBANKS -- An Eagle Village family is reeling from a series of tragic events this past week that began in Fairbanks and continues in Anchorage.

"I still feel like I am in this big nightmare waiting to wake up," said Jody Potts, family spokeswoman.

The Juneby-Potts family is continuing a vigil at the Alaska Native Medical Center for Ellen Rada, 58, who was found seriously injured and unconscious at a Fairbanks homeless camp on June 28 and medevaced to Anchorage. She was taken off life support on Monday but continues to breathe, according to relatives keeping vigil at her bedside around the clock.

Relatives also are in the midst of making memorial and funeral arrangements for family patriarch and former Eagle Village Chief Isaac Juneby, 71, who traveled to Anchorage to be with his sister.

After spending a long day Sunday at the hospital, Juneby died in an three-vehicle accident at the intersection of Lake Otis Parkway and O'Malley Road early Monday morning.

Witnesses say that Juneby drove through a red light at the intersection and collided with a large SUV and was then struck by another vehicle. After being extricated from the sedan he was driving, he was pronounced dead at the scene. Occupants of the other two vehicles were able to drive themselves to the hospital.

In addition, Rada's sister, Adeline Juneby-Potts who traveled to her stricken sister's bedside from Minnesota, is now a patient at ANMC.

"She suffered a heart attack on Wednesday," said her daughter Jody, "and is in the recovery ward. They were very, very close, raising their kids together. They lived next door to each other.

"She was so grief stricken; she kept saying her heart was broken," Jody said.

And that is in keeping with the medical center's doctors' diagnosis -- Broken Heart Syndrome, caused from too much (emotional) stress to the heart.

Jody describes her Aunt Ellen as "kind, sweet and caring."

"She helped raise me. She was a second mom to me."

Jody also remembers Ellen's love for and patience with children.

Ellen's beadworking and skin sewing skills also were of the highest caliber.

"She made beautiful beadwork and she made all her nieces and nephews fur hats out of marten, rabbit and fox," Jody said.

The small village of Eagle, located approximately five miles upriver on the Yukon from the city of Eagle, is grieving from the series of tragedies and preparing for Isaac Juneby's funeral to be held on Friday.

A memorial service will be held in Fairbanks on Monday with visitation at 3 p.m. and a 4 p.m. service, followed by a covered dish potluck. On Wednesday, there will be a 1 p.m. funeral service followed by a burial and potlatch in Eagle Village.

Fairbanks police are continuing an ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding Rada's injuries. She has not regained consciousness. No arrests have been made to date.

Meanwhile, a dozen family members, including Rada's two sons, James Fraser, 36, and Arthur Rada, 27, are keeping a continual, prayerful bedside watch over their comatose, mother, grandmother and aunt.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner