Alaska News

Former member of India parliament among dead in Parks Highway crash

The four men killed when a van collided with a pickup Monday on the Parks Highway near Cantwell included a high-level Indian official who founded a university.

Mathukumilla Verra Venkata Satyanarayana Murthi — known as M.V.V.S. Murthi — was among the dead, Alaska State Troopers said Wednesday. The Times of India reported that Murthi was a politician from the state of Andhra Pradesh.

Troopers also identified the van's driver as Siva Veeramachani and another passenger as Pattabhi Ramayya Chowdhary Vantipali. They named a fourth victim, 78-year-old Basava P. Veluvola, of India, on Tuesday as well as the only person in the van to survive: 58-year-old Venkata R. Kadiyala, also from India.

The men died after van driver Veeramachani tried to pass a semi in a no-passing zone south of Cantwell, troopers said. The van, which was southbound, collided with a 2007 Ford F-150 pickup going north in the opposite lane, seriously injuring a child inside.

The collision also injured the child's parents, identified Tuesday as 23-year-old Collin Koskey and 21-year-old Felicia Koskey, both of Fort Wainwright.

Two of the men in the van died at the scene. Two more died en route to the hospital.

Troopers on Tuesday asked for witnesses — including the semi driver — to come forward. On Wednesday, a spokeswoman said the driver had "reached out" to troopers and the investigating trooper hoped to talk to him and get a statement.

Murthi was described in Indian media reports as an influential educator who started a university but also a businessman known as "Goldspot" for a popular soft drink after he established a bottling company in the late 1960s.

Murthi founded the Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management and was elected to Parliament from Visakhapatnam in 1991 and again in 1999, according to a report in The Indian Express.

Zaz Hollander

Longtime ADN reporter Zaz Hollander is based in the Mat-Su and is currently focused on coverage of the coronavirus in Alaska. She also covers the Mat-Su region, aviation and general assignments. Contact her at zhollander@adn.com.

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