Talkeetna man dies in tanker collision on Parks Highway

DEC responding to “significant amount” of fuel spilled during crash
DEC responding to “significant amount” of fuel spilled during crash
Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 6:43 AM AKST|Updated: Dec. 15, 2022 at 9:46 PM AKST
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TRAPPER CREEK, Alaska (KTUU) - A deadly crash involving two commercial vehicles closed the Parks Highway north of Trapper Creek for hours, with Alaska State Troopers keeping the road closed into Thursday evening.

Troopers wrote in an online dispatch that the collision between a northbound fuel tanker and a southbound empty methane tanker occurred at approximately 1:30 a.m. Northbound and Southbound travel on the Parks Highway was stopped until 8 p.m. when crews were finally able to reopen the roadway.

“Based on a preliminary investigation, Troopers determined that an empty methane tanker was traveling southbound when the driver lost control while navigating a corner,” troopers wrote. “The empty methane tanker collided with a fuel tanker that was traveling northbound. The driver, and sole occupant, of the fuel tanker, 67-year-old Talkeetna resident David Hope was declared deceased at the scene.”

Troopers wrote that the driver of the methane tanker truck was uninjured.

According to the Alaska 511 map, the crash is near the turnoff to the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, about 19 miles north of Trapper Creek.

“As a result of the collision, a significant amount of fuel from the tanker was spilled,” troopers wrote. “The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is working with the involved companies to coordinate the remediation of the scene.”

Troopers said there is no route to detour around the closure.

The initial situation report published by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Thursday afternoon reported that approximately 4,000 gallons of jet fuel spilled from the tanker.

“The spill occurred along the Parks Highway at approximately mile post 133.5 and is near the Chulitna River,” the report said. “Impacts to the river or wildlife have not been observed by on scene responders at this time. The ADEC is coordinating with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Department of Natural Resources to identify any potential impacts from the fuel in the area.”

The report said that the 4,000 gallons came from one of the three fuel compartments within the tanker. The other two compartments of the 11,000-gallon tanker and the additional 7,000-gallon tanker were not punctured.

“If the spill were to reach flowing waters of the Chulitna, it could travel downstream for about 25 miles before joining the Sustina River which, in addition to the five species of salmon, supports Arctic lamprey, Pacific lamprey, whitefish, and eulachon,” the report said. “From the confluence with the Susitna River it is about 75 river miles to the marine waters of upper Cook Inlet.”

This story has been updated with additional information.