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Crashes cause fatality, road closures on peninsula highways

The Sterling Highway through Cooper Landing in January, 2021.
Sabine Poux
The Sterling Highway through Cooper Landing in January, 2021.

Four separate crashes on the Sterling and Seward Highways early this week resulted in at least one fatality, one hospitalization and a handful of road closures.

On Monday, a two-vehicle crash on the Sterling Highway near Watson Lake killed one Anchorage resident and sent another to the hospital in critical condition.

According to a statement from Alaska State Troopers, 28-year-old Griffin Powley-Webb of Anchorage was driving in the southbound lane yesterday afternoon in a 2014 Subaru Impreza when he crossed over the center line and collided with a 2010 Toyota pickup truck driven by 71-year-old Ann Mary Gabler, also of Anchorage.

Troopers arrived at the crash site at 1:30 p.m. They say Powley-Webb died at the scene. Gabler was transported to the hospital by air ambulance with serious injuries. Traffic was closed on the Sterling Highway in both directions for several hours yesterday as a result of the crash.

According to yesterday’s statement, the cause and circumstances of the crash are still under investigation.

Then, on Tuesday, the first major snow of the season fell around Southcentral Alaska and crashes partially closed both the Seward and Sterling Highways in the afternoon and evening.

The Sterling Highway temporarily closed at milepost 52.5, near Gwin’s Lodge, due to a vehicle crash. According to a 3 p.m.alert from Alaska State Troopers, there was a heavy emergency vehicle presence in the area. By 5 p.m., there was one lane open.

According to an alert issued at 4:45 p.m, the Seward Highway closed in both directions at mile 101.5 on Turnagain Arm, near Bird Creek, due to a vehicle rollover. Anchorage police and medics responded.

Last night, another crash near mile 98 on the Seward Highway sent one person to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. The crash occurred when a northbound sedan driver lost control of their car and veered into the southbound lane, hitting a truck. A passenger of the sedan was taken to the hospital for her injuries, but nobody else involved in the crash was severely injured.

The southbound lane was temporarily closed, but both lanes are now open.

A spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Transportation said road conditions are the best they can be, after they were pretreated in anticipation of snow. However, the Kenai Peninsula accumulated several more inches of snow on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, and drivers should expect icy conditions over the next couple of days.

You can find current road conditions at Alaska 511.

Riley Board is a Report For America reporter covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula for KDLL.