Pickup driver hospitalized after fiery Parks Highway collision with semi

Zaz Hollander

A man was hospitalized with serious injuries following a fiery collision with a semi late Wednesday on the Parks Highway near the Chulitna River wayside, Alaska State Troopers said.

The accident closed the highway for seven hours, troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said. Troopers responding to the scene had to drive three and a half hours from Fairbanks just to get there and then start investigating the accident.

The man, who still hadn't been identified as of Thursday afternoon, was southbound in a Ford F-350 around Mile 185 Parks Highway when his pickup crossed into the northbound lane and into the path of a semi pulling double trailers, troopers said. The semi's driver, 42-year-old Kevin Redd Bailey of Wasilla, tried to avoid the collision by turning into the other lane of traffic but collided with the pickup.

The pickup hit so hard "it knocked the front end of the semi-truck off the road," Ipsen wrote in an email.

The pickup rolled into a guardrail and "became engulfed in fire," troopers said. The semi went into the ditch.

When first responders out of Cantwell arrived, the man was lying in the middle of the road and the pickup was engulfed in flames, Ipsen said. It's unclear whether he was thrown or crawled out.

The driver of the pickup sustained a serious head injury and was taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital by an ambulance out of Cantwell due to white-out conditions at the time, Ipsen said. He was later flown to Alaska Native Medical Center.

The man was conscious when medics got to him but didn't answer questions medics asked him, including his name, she said. "It's unknown if he either was unable to talk due to his injuries or he simply (chose) not to answer the medics' questions."

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