2 Fairbanks soldiers killed in vehicle crash outside Salcha identified

Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 7:15 PM AKDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2023 at 10:00 PM AKDT
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SALCHA, Alaska (KTUU) - Two soldiers died and 12 others were injured when a transport vehicle flipped on Monday outside of Salcha, according to the U.S. Army Alaska.

The army has identified the soldiers as Spc. Jeremy Daniel Evans, 23, of Knoxville, Tennessee and Spc. Brian Joshua Snowden, 22, of Londell, Missouri. Both soldiers joined the army in July 2020 and arrived in Alaska early in 2021. Both were members of the 11th Airborne Division based at Fort Wainwright.

In a press release on Monday, officials wrote that 17 soldiers were riding in an LMTV transport vehicle when a “single military vehicle accident” occurred on a dirt road heading into the Yukon Training Area.

Army spokesperson John Pennell said in an interview the military vehicle filled with soldiers flipped, adding the soldiers based at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks were participating in training exercises.

“At some point, the driver lost control of the vehicle and it flipped,” Pennell said.

First responders provided initial medical treatment to the victims before they were transported via ground and air to the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

The two most critically injured of those 12 were flown to Anchorage to Providence Medical Center. By Monday, all but four soldiers were released from the hospital.

The Alaska State Troopers, North Pole Fire Department and Eielson Air Force Base all assisted in the first response to the accident.

“We’re all grieving and kind of doing what we can to support the families,” Pennell said. “Anytime we lose our soldiers, it’s a tragic event for the family, for the fellow soldiers, for the soldiers’ friends. Essentially the entire 11th Airborne Division family is grieving the loss of these two soldiers and preparing to step forward for the families they’ve left behind.”

The crash is still under investigation.

Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan wrote in a statement on Tuesday that his prayers are with the family members of the fallen soldiers.

“Members of the 11th Airborne Division, our state’s own ‘Arctic Angels,’ put their lives at risk every day to defend our country, whether serving thousands of miles away or conducting training exercises at home,” Sullivan stated. “Alaska relies on our strong military, and we owe them and their families a profound debt of gratitude for their service. Today, the 11th Airborne Division needs our support and prayers.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski also commented on the tragic loss of the young soldiers on Tuesday.

“My heart is with the entire 11th Airborne Division and families of the soldiers who passed away during a training exercise outside of Salcha,” Murkowski wrote. “Words can’t express my gratitude for their service and sacrifice. They will be sorely missed by so many.”

The loss of two promising young soldiers can be difficult for those currently serving, or for those who have already served.

“This is an incredible loss for all of us across the division,” said Maj. Gen. Brian Eifler, commanding general of the 11th Airborne Division. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends, and fellow soldiers of Spc. Evans and Spc. Snowden. While we’re always challenged by the environment, we’re Arctic Angels, we overcome these challenges and accomplish our mission by being a team, and teams take care of one another, especially in times like these.”

This article has been updated with additional information. A previous version incorrectly stated Evans was from Missouri and Snowden was from Tennessee.