Woman suspected of texting, DUI injures construction worker in crash

Zaz Hollander

A Soldotna woman was texting behind the wheel in a construction zone on the Kenai Peninsula when she crashed into a trailer and injured a construction worker, Alaska State Troopers said.

Kara Kellerby, 29, was also driving under the influence during the accident, which was reported at 2:51 a.m. Sunday, troopers said.

Construction worker Angela O'Brien suffered minor injuries when Kellerby, southbound at Mile 2 of the Kenai Spur Highway, crashed into a trailer attached to a Ford F-450, troopers said. The trailer carried a flashing arrow signs warning drivers to move to another lane.

Kellerby's 2006 Jeep Commander crashed into the trailer which crashed into the pickup, according to troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters.

O'Brien was sitting inside the pickup at the time, Peters said. Medics took her to Central Peninsula Hospital. She was treated and released there on Sunday, according to Ian Langtry, region safety manager for Granite Construction, the company O'Brien was working for.

The impact of the collision totalled the sign and pushed the heavy Ford pickup several feet forward, he said. Kellerby's car bounced backward.

The speed limit on the section of highway where the accident happened drops from 55 mph to 45 mph, said Langtry, who encouraged drivers to slow down and pay attention in construction zones.

"That is our office out there," he said.

Kellerby was arrested on a felony count of third-degree assault, as well as misdemeanor charges of texting while driving and driving under the influence, according to a state courts database. Her estimated blood-alcohol level was slightly more than twice the legal limit for driving, Peters said.

Alaska lawmakers last year revised a texting-and-driving ban to strengthen the law. In the most high profile of dozens of arrests made since, a grand jury indicted an Anchorage teen for murder and felony texting while driving after he ran a red light and killed a 27-year-old mother of two in Midtown in February. He had a learner's permit but not a valid license.

A Wasilla teen with a learner's permit was cited for texting behind the wheel in June after he nearly caused a head-on crash west of Wasilla.

Kellerby was lodged at Wildwood Pretrial Facility without bail after her incident. She remained jailed Monday after a morning court hearing.

The state Department of Transportation & Public Facilities said the Kenai Spur highway project began in August and was expected to wrap up this week. The project includes striping and resurfacing from the Soldotna "Y" to Mile 3 of the highway toward Kenai.

Transportation officials will conduct an assessment and project-level accident report in light of the crash, construction project manager Laura Paul said.

Granite will also conduct an internal accident investigation, Langtry said.

Reach Zaz Hollander at zhollander@adn.com or 257-4317.