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Injury accident on Seward Highway causes hours of traffic delays Sunday

A crash involving multiple vehicles near McHugh Creek shut down the Seward Highway just after 1 p.m. Sunday, July 9. (Photo by Kerry Tasker)

A multi-vehicle crash on the Seward Highway left at least one person with critical injuries and snarled traffic for hours Sunday afternoon and evening.

The crash happened around 12:30 p.m. Sunday when a vehicle driving northbound "for unknown reasons turned into the southbound lane" of the highway at mile 109, said Anchorage Police Department spokesman M.J. Thim. The site of the crash is close to a popular turnout where people gather drinking water at a roadside water pipe.

"The vehicle was hit head on, that caused a chain reaction accident involving multiple injuries," he said.

It is not clear why the vehicle turned into the oncoming traffic, Thim said. Thim did not know how many people were hospitalized. At least one of the injuries is considered life threatening, Thim said.

The crash investigation and cleanup caused long delays for motorists throughout the afternoon and evening. At 7 p.m. Sunday, police announced crews had finished clearing the scene — removing wreckage of four vehicles, including a boat on a trailer —and the road was open in both directions, though slowdowns continued.

The crash happened during a busy weekend for the only stretch of road that links Anchorage with the Kenai Peninsula, on a day when thousands of people travel to the small community of Girdwood for the annual Forest Fair event.

It was at least the second time in 10 days a Seward Highway collision led to hours-long delays leaving hundreds of motorists locked in traffic. A June 30 two-vehicle wreck south of Girdwood closed the highway in both directions for about three hours.

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