Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, March 27, 2005

Three injured in Saturday accident

JUNEAU - A 65-year-old woman was in stable condition at Bartlett Regional Hospital late Saturday, according to police, after a two-vehicle accident in the Mendenhall Valley that sent two other people to the hospital.

Police received telephone calls about the accident at 10:27 a.m. and found a 1998 Chevrolet and an a 1972 Dodge truck blocking the intersection of Riverside and Stephen Richards Memorial drives. Capital City Fire and Rescue took the drivers of both vehicles and an 11-year-old passenger of the Chevrolet to the hospital, officers reported.

Police did not release the names of those injured in the accident but reported the 11-year-old was treated for minor cuts and abrasions before being released, as was the 27-year-old man reported to be driving the Dodge truck.

Police concluded that the woman was attempting to turn the Chevrolet from Stephen Richards onto the southbound lane of Riverside, in the path of the oncoming Dodge, which was unable to stop and stuck the driver-side door of the Chevrolet, officers reported.

Both vehicles were reported as totaled and towed from the scene. Saturday police reported that no citations had been issued, with further investigation pending.

UAS to host Pacific Rim Forum

JUNEAU - Juneau may be small, but it's geographically situated on the Pacific Rim, a region with half of the world's population.

The Pacific Rim Forum at the University of Alaska Southeast campus from Thursday to Saturday, will be all about making the broader connections between Juneau, the rest of Alaska, and other Pacific Rim population centers.

The third annual conference, will feature politicians, scientists, artists, business leaders, students and residents from around the Pacific rim to discuss economic and environmental issues.

Topics will include global warming, trans-border economic and cultural exchanges, sustainable living, cruise ship tourism, water pollution, forestry and artistic perspectives.

Speakers will include Rick Harris, vice president of Sealaska Corp., who will discuss timber, and Igor Semenov, an assistant chairman of Commerce for Russia's parliament, who will discuss eastern Russia's experiences with sustainable development.

The breakfasts, lectures and other events will be open to the public and begin at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Artistic events begin at 7:30 p.m. All events will be free except for "The Long Season" theater performance on Thursday night and the CrossSound performance on Saturday night.

For more information, visit or send an e-mail to

Sitka man drowns in Maui

KAHULUI, Hawaii - A visitor from Sitka apparently drowned Friday while snorkeling with two of his four children in waters off Makena, Maui.

Oscar Whitson, 47, told his 15-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son that he felt tired and was going to swim to shore, according to witnesses.

When the two children finished snorkeling, they returned to shore but couldn't find their father on the rough stone beach, the witnesses said. While the children were looking for their father on shore, another snorkeler reportedly spotted the body floating in the water.

The body had washed ashore on the beach of a small cove by the time emergency crews arrived.

Rescue crews recovered the body about a quarter-mile from the parking lot at Ahihi Bay. Maui Fire Department Battalion Chief Frank Tam said it was not clear how long the man had been in the water before he was found.

Emergency officials at the scene said the cause of death had not been determined, but the details pointed to a possible heart attack. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of death, said Lt. Glenn Cuomo of the Maui Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division.

State's forest-fire readiness questioned

FAIRBANKS - Wildfire managers failed to grasp the extent of last summer's fire danger, according to a member of a commission that studied the response to Alaska's record burn season.

The fires on the outskirts of the Fairbanks North Star Borough quickly got out of hand, endangering area residents, said Fairbanks attorney Lance Parrish.

Parrish made his comments during a Borough Assembly work session Thursday to examine the Wildland Fire Commission's report. The commission was created by the assembly on the recommendation of borough mayor Jim Whitaker.

The Boundary and the Wolf Creek fires consumed about 900,000 acres north of Fairbanks, forcing evacuations and blanketing the area with thick smoke. Statewide, more than 6.7 million acres burned and more than $106 million was spent on firefighting efforts.

Parrish was the only commission member to attend the work session. Whitaker has called for another session to hear from other commissioners. The commission examined firefighting efforts for 60 days, hearing from state and federal fire managers, weather forecasters, land managers and others, before releasing its report. Recommendations in the report ranged from fire management policy and planning to communication to firefighting equipment.

Crack found in deck of oil tanker

ANCHORAGE - A tanker transporting North Slope crude oil was detained in Prince William Sound after a crewman discovered a small crack in the deck, Coast Guard officials said.

The 894-foot Overseas Chicago was making the final voyage of its career when a crewman doing a routine deck inspection found an oil stain Friday. The ship can carry 600,000 barrels of oil.

The crack is about an inch and three-quarters long, said Anil Mathur, president of Alaska Tanker Co., a Beaverton, Ore., shipping company that hauls oil for BP.

Deck cracks are unusual. Mathur said he remembers only one other occurrence within his fleet since August 2001.

As a precaution, the ship and its escort tugs diverted to the area of Knowles Head in Prince William Sound and dropped anchor pending an inspection, Mathur said.

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