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SUV driver pulled onto Parks Highway at Big Lake before fatal crash with semi, troopers say

A fatal accident the afternoon of Thursday May 23 2019 at the intersection of Big Lake Road and the Parks Highway drew a large emergency response. (Photo courtesy Houston Fire Department)

PALMER -- A fatal accident occurred Thursday afternoon on the Parks Highway after the driver of an SUV making a left turn from Big Lake Road pulled into the path of an oncoming semi, Alaska State Troopers say.

The driver, who has not been identified, was killed in the resulting crash around 3 p.m., troopers said in a dispatch posted late Thursday.

The accident was one of two at roughly the same time Thursday afternoon on the Parks Highway that slowed traffic for hours. The highway, the main artery between Anchorage and Fairbanks, reopened by evening.

The Big Lake cut-off on the highway is a busy intersection where drivers sometimes wait long minutes for breaks in traffic.

Two passengers, 43-year-old Frieda Gillespie and 28-year-old Shawn Phillips-Tomlinson, were injured, troopers said. They were both taken to an area hospital, one by air and the other by ground.

The semi driver was identified as 37-year-old Arnol Farmer, who “was unable to avoid the collision,” troopers said. He was not injured.

There is no indication that alcohol was a factor in the crash, troopers said. An investigation continues.

A total of 24 emergency responders helped at the accident scene, according to Houston fire Chief Christian Hartley: 10 rescuers from Houston, six from West Lakes Fire Department, four ambulances and a LifeMed air ambulance. Troopers and state parks rangers also responded.

Just before the Big Lake crash, a two-vehicle accident was reported at the Parks Highway and Church Road, Mat-Su Borough emergency officials said. Three people were injured.

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