Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, April 08, 2004

Two injured in Tuesday night accident

JUNEAU - Drivers of two cars involved in a Tuesday night traffic accident in the Mendenhall Valley were treated for injuries at Bartlett Regional Hospital.

At 9:49 p.m., Juneau police found a 1993 Dodge Shadow on the sidewalk and a 1992 Subaru Legacy in the middle of the road at Riverside Drive and Gee Street.

Officers concluded that the 25-year-old woman driving the Subaru turned left onto Riverside Drive in front of the northbound Dodge, driven by a 36-year-old man.

The woman said she had back and knee pain, police reported. The man said he had a hand injury, they said. Capital City Fire and Rescue took both to the hospital. Both were later released.

Police reported that the investigation continues and charges could be filed.

Stove explosion burns man at Chilkat Lake

CHILKAT LAKE - A 62-year-old man was flown to Seattle with burns covering half his body after an oil-fired stove exploded in his cabin Tuesday night.

Gene Stuart was flown from his remote cabin on Chilkat Lake in Moose Valley to Haines by a Coastal Tours helicopter with medics on board, according to Alaska State Troopers. Haines police notified the U.S. Coast Guard of the accident at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, the Coast Guard reported.

A Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter from Sitka Air Station flew him from Haines to Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau. A Coast Guard medical technician treated Stuart on board, and he arrived in Juneau in stable condition, the Coast Guard reported. Stuart was later flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Troopers reported that Stuart had first-degree burns on 25 percent of his body and second-degree burns on 25 percent of his body.

Troopers said two friends of Stuart provided assistance to him before help arrived.

Widow sues bar for husband's death

SITKA - The widow of a Kodiak fisherman who drowned last year has filed a lawsuit against the Pioneer Bar in Sitka, alleging it served her husband too much alcohol.

In the lawsuit filed Monday, Patty Maechtle contends her husband, Scott Maechtle, drank too much at the bar in March 2003. While returning to the Kodiak-based fishing vessel Alicia Jean, Maechtle fell off a skiff and drowned in Sitka Sound near town.

He was working as a seaman on the Alicia Jean during the commercial herring sac roe fishery.

Maechtle, 46, went out drinking with other fishermen at the Pioneer Bar after unloading the catch, according to KCAW in Sitka.

Court documents say Maechtle became visibly and obviously intoxicated. Before 11:30 p.m., Maechtle left the bar to buy a pack of cigarettes, then returned and ordered more shots of alcohol.

The complaint alleges that the Pioneer Bar was negligent in allowing Maechtle to remain on the premises, serving him the additional shots of alcohol he ordered.

Fire reported under Gold Creek Bridge

JUNEAU - Several juveniles were reportedly seen Tuesday night leaving the area of the Gold Creek Bridge downtown, shortly after a fire was reported in what was later determined to be a temporary camp.

Juneau police said no one was injured in the fire and the cause remains under investigation.

The department reported receiving a call at 10:50 p.m., stating that a huge fireball was seen under the bridge. It appeared to be burning itself out. The caller also reported seeing the juveniles.

Capital City Fire and Rescue crews responded and extinguished the blaze.

Utility keeps eagles from being electrocuted

ANCHORAGE - Six years ago, birds winging around the fishing port of Kodiak had a deadly problem: utility poles.

Bald eagles fond of roosting on the poles were being electrocuted when they touched the power lines and metal contacts.

The deaths, about six a year, and the expense of outages they caused has turned Kodiak Electric Association into a laboratory of sorts for raptor protection. The cooperative now even dispenses advice to companies as far away as Tampa, Fla.

"Kodiak is a very good example of the way it should be done," said Jill Birchell, wildlife protection special agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage.

Kodiak Island is America's second largest, after Hawaii. Thirty miles from the mainland in the Gulf of Alaska, surrounded by water rich in salmon, halibut and cod, Kodiak is home to more than 2,500 bald eagles. When lakes and rivers on the mainland freeze, dozens more arrive for the winter.

Kodiak Electric Association's first choice for protecting eagles is replacing poles with ones that have at least 5 feet between contact points, according to operations manager Lanny VanMeter, who is credited with spearheading changes. The extra space decreases the chance of an eagle touching anything other than its feathers, which are insulated when dry, on a live wire.

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