Mat-Su

Willow woman killed, two others injured in Parks Highway collision

A 29-year-old Willow woman died and two others were seriously injured in a head-on collision early Monday morning on the Parks Highway, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Audrey Ureda died after a Chevrolet pickup truck crossed into her lane from the opposite direction just before 6 a.m. near Mile 68 of the highway, troopers said. Ureda was driving an Acura SUV. She was declared deceased at the scene.

The male driver of the pickup was taken to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center with serious injuries and a passenger was medevaced by helicopter to an Anchorage hospital, troopers said. The driver and passenger were not identified.

Ureda owned and operated the Toasted Joe’s Coffee stand along the highway near the accident scene, according to Mat-Su business records. Friends and customers left messages of grief and remembrance on a Willow community Facebook group Monday.

The chair of the Willow Area Community Organization posted a statement late Monday expressing sorrow over Ureda’s loss.

She and life partner Jake Warden, “enthusiastically engaged in our community and together were a wonderful addition to Willow,” chair Tryg Erickson wrote, calling the pair a sweet couple. “I know I echo the thoughts of the WACO board and our many active volunteers that we have been fortunate to have known Audrey.”

Warden in a separate post said he hopes to reopen the coffee hut they built together on Wednesday.

Traffic on the highway, the main route between Anchorage and Fairbanks, was detoured during the 3-hour highway closure Monday morning.

Alcohol and drugs do not appear to be a contributing factor to the accident, troopers said. No arrests had been made as of Monday afternoon and no citations issued.

An investigation continues.

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