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Community mourns 3 motorcyclists killed in Glenn Highway crash

Laurel Andrews

The Harley-Davidson community was mourning the loss of three motorcyclists on Sunday who perished in a head-on collision on the Glenn Highway north of Anchorage Saturday evening.

The accident occurred at mile 37 of the Glenn Highway. Dakota J. Letherman, 18, driving a 2010 Chevrolet van, reportedly rear-ended a 1987 Ford F-250 being driven by Slade Storud, 19, who had stopped to make a turn into a driveway. Storud’s vehicle was pushed into the southbound lane of the highway, directly in front of four motorcyclists on Harley Davidson motorcycles, who all collided with the truck.

The Wasilla Police Department dispatch center got a call about the accident just before 8 p.m. Troopers responded and minutes later three of the motorcyclists were pronounced dead at the scene -- husband and wife James D. and Sabrina A. Carlyle, ages 53 and 48, respectively, and Elaine J. Loew, 63. The Carlyles lived in Wasilla, and Loew was an Anchorage resident, trooper spokesperson Tim DeSpain said. Two of the deceased were wearing helmets, he said.

The fourth motorcyclist was unharmed. He was identified as Loew’s husband, Paul Loew, by House of Harley Davidson owner Dia Matteson and Denali Harley-Davidson service manager Rick Scholey.

The Harley-Davidson community was mourning the loss on Sunday afternoon, as people gathered at the House of Harley-Davidson in Anchorage for a memorial.

Matteson said that the four motorcyclists “were all a really big part of our community.”

Elaine Loew was a local ambassador for the local chapter, Matteson said. Her job was to greet and welcome new riders, and she also sponsored events at her house. “She just did a lot,” Matteson said.

Anchorage’s Harley-Davidson community consists of thousands of riders and the two couples are well known to all, Matteson said. “They were all very important to all of us and we’re all very sad and miss them,” she said.

Matteson said the Loews had attended a bike blessing earlier that day, where bikes were blessed by the local chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association.

Scholey said that he’s known all four motorcyclists since he began working at the Denali Harley Davidson shop in 2006. He had heard that the four had just eaten dinner when they were heading into Anchorage Saturday night.

The accident is “just one of those freak deals,” Scholey said. Motorcyclists strive to be aware of all vehicles on the road, he said, but “looking at the skid marks, shoot, there was only 30 feet, they didn’t have much of a chance at all.”

“It just happened so quick,” he said.

Scholey said the 3 victims were “good people, outgoing people, everybody liked them.”

DeSpain said all parties involved in the crash had submitted to toxicology tests, and the investigation is continuing. There’s no word yet on whether any charges will be filed in the crash.