Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Motorcyclist injured on Glacier Highway

JUNEAU - Capital City Fire and Rescue took a motorcyclist to Bartlett Regional Hospital Monday afternoon after a single-vehicle accident on Glacier Highway near Tee Harbor.

Police responded to the accident at 3:14 p.m. and found a 27-year-old Juneau man in the ditch on the outbound side of the highway. The investigation revealed that his rear wheel had started to wobble for an undetermined reason, causing him to lose control and slide into the ditch.

Witnesses at the scene said the motorcyclist's speed was not excessive. The 2001 Honda motorcycle sustained an estimated $2,000 in damage.

The condition of the driver was not available Monday night.

China Airlines pilot barred from flight

ANCHORAGE - A China Airlines pilot was prevented from taking command of a passenger flight when he was stopped by an airport screener, who smelled alcohol and then failed a breath test.

The pilot, whose name has not been made public, was stopped before boarding the Anchorage-to-New York flight at about 10 a.m. Thursday.

The aircraft was an Airbus 340, a wide-body, long-range jet that can carry 295 to 380 passengers, depending on its configuration.

John Madden, Transportation Safety Administration deputy security director, said Monday that while processing a member of the air crew for security, a screener smelled alcohol and had a suspicion that person might be under the influence.

Jennifer Payne, spokeswoman for Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, said airport police administered a breath test to the pilot that showed a blood alcohol level of .087 percent. Police turned the matter over to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The legal limit for driving in Alaska is .08 percent. According to the FAA's Web site, no pilot may operate an aircraft while under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol level of .04 percent or greater. Also, pilots are banned from drinking eight hours before a flight.

The pilot was identified as the first pilot, or captain, of the flight, said FAA spokeswoman Joette Storm. The China Airlines station manager immediately suspended him from flying, she said, and the jet departed Anchorage.

State investigates antitrust rumors

ANCHORAGE - The state attorney general's office is investigating antitrust concerns raised over the sale of one of the largest fuel distributors in Western Alaska.

Yukon Fuel Co., and its parent company are for sale and some Western Alaska groups are concerned that its main competitor, Crowley Maritime Service, may purchase the company.

The potential effect of Crowley's purchase is so substantial that the state has an obligation to learn more about it, said Ed Sniffen, assistant attorney general in the Commercial and Fair Business Division.

Crowley spokesman Mark Miller would not confirm whether the company is interested in purchasing Yukon Fuel.

But Meera Kohler, executive director of the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, said Yukon Fuel informed her that Crowley was a likely buyer. The cooperative operates diesel-powered electric plants in 51 villages, buying 5.5 million gallons of fuel annually and is a major customer of Yukon Fuel.

Such a sale could easily drive up the price of fuel and electricity, Kohler said. "Without competitors, it would be whatever the market will bear, with no alternatives," she said.

Wasilla man arrested on shooting charge

ANCHORAGE - A Wasilla man was arrested after he fired a handgun at a party that struck another man in the buttocks, Alaska State Troopers said.

Jobie Karr, 40, is charged with first-degree assault, two counts of fourth-degree misconduct involving a weapon and reckless endangerment, troopers said.

The victim, Jeff Navarette, 24, of Anaheim, Calif., was taken by Lifeflight helicopter to Providence Alaska Medical Center and was listed in stable condition Sunday afternoon.

State to study game for wasting disease

KODIAK - State wildlife biologists are conducting a study to determine whether chronic wasting disease has affected Kodiak Island.

Officials with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game need to gather at least 500 deer heads and as many elk heads as possible for the study.

State officials hope to prove that the insidious disease, which has been found in the western United States, is not present here.

There's no indication that it exists here, said fish and game biologist Larry VanDaele.

The study is funded by the federal government, which is working with several states to identify whether the disease exists in their area. Chronic wasting disease, which is related to mad-cow disease, causes proteins in the brain to breakdown. Animals infected with chronic wasting disease become emaciated, have behavioral changes, and eventually die. It takes at least 17 months for these symptoms to appear.

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