Alaska News

One dead in vehicle collision near North Pole

Alaska State Troopers have tentatively identified the victim of a fatal vehicle crash Tuesday morning near North Pole as 59-year-old Ernest Ford.

Troopers confirmed one dead as the result of a two-vehicle collision on the Old Richardson Highway earlier in the day.

Alaska State Troopers' Fairbanks-based dispatchers got a call shortly after 7 a.m. about the crash near Sky Ranch Road, about Mile 12 on the highway.

A Chevrolet Suburban and a Ford F-350 collided. Fairbanks resident Eddie Ahyakak, 37, was driving the pickup west when his vehicle crossed the center line and hit Ford's Suburban head on, troopers reported in an online dispatch.

Ahyakak was transported to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital with serious injuries, while Ford was declared dead at the scene, troopers reported.

Troopers spokesperson Megan Peters said crash investigators had not positively identified the deceased driver as Ford, a North Pole resident, but are confident enough it was him to have notified his family about the wreck. It will take a State Medical Examiner's Office autopsy to validate their finding, she said.

Ahyakak is a member of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation's board of directors and a refinery operator for Petro Star, Inc., and was off duty at the time of the accident, according to a statement issued by the company. Ahyakak was also recently featured as a contestant on the reality TV show "Ultimate Survival Alaska."

David Daniell, deputy chief of the North Star Volunteer Fire Department, said the vehicles had no other occupants at the time of the accident.

The Old Richardson was closed for about five hours at its Mile 12 access as well as in town at Fifth Avenue.

Alaska Department of Transportation personnel were nearby and helped direct traffic.

The state's Bureau of Highway Patrol is investigating the cause of the wreck.

The highway is busiest in the early morning when commuters make their way to Fairbanks for work; the Mile 12 access is particularly busy, as it's the main artery for trucks traveling to and from the Flint Hills refinery, according to Daniell.