A 31-year-old Juneau resident died Saturday afternoon after losing control of her vehicle near 15.5 mile of Glacier Highway and crashing into an oncoming sports utility vehicle, according to police.
Capital City Fire Rescue pronounced MaryGrace Needham dead at the scene of the accident. Her next of kin have been notified by the Juneau Police Department.
Needham was traveling northbound on Glacier Highway in a 1993 Mercury sedan when she lost control at about 3:09 p.m., Sgt. Dave Campbell said.
"The vehicle lost control, crossed into the oncoming lane of traffic and was struck by a 2002 Ford SUV that was traveling inbound," he said.
The driver of the Ford, 61-year-old Juneau resident Bernard Wostman, was transported to Bartlett Regional Hospital with minor injuries and was later released.
The drivers of both vehicles were wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident and neither had passengers with them, Campbell said.
"(After a) preliminary investigation, it doesn't appear as though there was alcohol involved, but the State Medical Examiner's office has requested a toxicology screening on Needham, pretty much just standard course of business," he said.
At this point, investigators are unsure what caused Needham to lose control of her vehicle, Campbell said. He noted that it had been snowing and the temperature had been below freezing, but said it is too early to know if that was a factor.
"Exactly why at this point in time is just conjecture," he said.
The police department dispatched accident investigators to the scene and Glacier Highway was closed for approximately 3 hours and 20 minutes while they processed the accident.
Campbell did not recall when the last fatal car accident occurred in Juneau, but said the department deals with "a handful of them every year." He said that drivers should exercise caution when driving in inclement weather and noted that just because a speed limit is posted at a certain speed, it doesn't necessarily mean that it is safe to travel at the posted rate of speed.
"It's always prudent during times when it's borderline between freezing and thawing to drive carefully," he said. "I'm not saying Ms. Meedham did anything wrong, I'm just saying it's always prudent to drive carefully."
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