Rural Alaska

Two Unalaska girls die, driver survives when pickup rolls off cliff

Two Unalaska teens died Thursday when a pickup driven by a third teen rolled off a cliff on Ballyhoo Mountain near the town, police said.

Emergency responders were dispatched to the Ulakta Head area of the mountain at 1:30 p.m. and found a 2001 Ford truck had left the roadway and tumbled about 900 feet down to the shoreline.

Unalaska police contacted the driver, 18-year-old Dustin Ruckman, at the scene and were told that he and two companions, 16-year-old Karly McDonald and 17-year-old Kiara Renteria, were traveling on the road atop Ballyhoo Mountain when he lost control of the vehicle.

Ruckman said he was thrown from the vehicle as it descended a steep ravine, police said. He told officers he was able to climb back to the road and ran down the east side of the mountain, where he flagged down a motorist.

According to Unalaska police, responders had a difficult time accessing the widespread wreckage and searching for the victims due to the extremely steep terrain. The city’s harbor officers approached the scene from the water but faced challenges landing on the rocky shoreline.

“Responders searched the ravine at great personal risk from above and below for a long while looking for McDonald and Renteria before finding their bodies some distance apart, where each had been thrown as the truck broke into pieces on its way down the mountain,” a Department of Public Safety statement said.

The girls were both declared deceased at 5 p.m. Recovery of their remains was expected to be completed on Friday.


There was no immediate word on Ruckman’s injuries.

All three youths were lifelong residents of Unalaska and students at Unalaska High School, police said.

The investigation into the crash was ongoing.