Three die in separate crashes

Snowmachines involved in each death

Posted: Monday, February 14, 2000

ANCHORAGE - Snowmachine incidents took the lives of three Alaskans over the past several days.

Brian Craig, 35, from Kotzebue died from exposure last week when he got separated from his companion while walking home after their snowmachine broke down, according to Alaska State Troopers. His body was found Thursday.

Craig left Kotzebue at 10 p.m. Wednesday to take Charlie Patterson home to Noorvik, 60 miles away. Twenty miles out, the borrowed snowmachine went into a ditch and the engine died. While Patterson tried to start it, Craig wandered off, trooper Sgt. Robert Meade said.

Patterson, 21, searched in blinding snow for an hour, then walked 12 hours before a snowmachiner found him Thursday afternoon about 30 miles from Noorvik, Meade said.

Searchers later found Craig's body in the snow less than a half-mile from the snowmachine, troopers said. Troopers and Craig's father said they believe alcohol was a factor in his death. Craig had been drinking before the trip, troopers said.

In a separate incident, an Elim man was killed and another was injured in a snowmachine crash late Friday near the Norton Sound village about 100 miles east of Nome.

Floyd Nagruk, 20, and Christopher Kalerak, 17, were reportedly traveling the 20 miles from Elim to Golovin during severe whiteout conditions when the crash occurred.

Nagruk died while being transported to Nome after the crash, which occurred just before midnight. Troopers say Kalerak, also of Elim, was treated for facial injuries in Nome before being flown to Anchorage for more care.

Troopers said they do not believe alcohol was involved.

The third death occurred when a Delta Junction woman was riding along the trans-Alaska pipeline corridor near Mile 286 of the Richardson Highway on Saturday afternoon.

Troopers said MaryLunne Wright, 40, fell off her snowmachine and was struck by another snowmachine that came up behind her. Wright was taken to the clinic in Delta Junction where she was pronounced dead.

Troopers said Sunday they were continuing their investigation.

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