Semi truck drags, kills Anchorage pedestrian

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2007

ANCHORAGE - A semi pulling a belly dump trailer struck a pedestrian at a downtown corner and dragged him 10 blocks, killing him.

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The driver of the tractor-trailer on Saturday did not realize he had hit the pedestrian, who was rolled up in the truck's rear wheels, and did not stop until a motorist flagged him down, police said.

The victim, whose identity had been released Sunday, suffered "significant injuries" and was dead on the scene, said police Sgt. Matt Bloodgood.

The truck at about 8:30 a.m. turned right off A Street and headed east on Sixth Avenue. The pedestrian was struck and became bound up in the right-side wheels on the back end of the trailer. Snow was falling and the sun was just coming up, Bloodgood said.

The truck continued down Sixth Avenue for several blocks until another motorist saw the victim hung up in the truck wheels. The motorist sped up and flagged down the truck, which came to a stop between Juneau and Karluk streets in front of a Mercedes-Benz dealership.

With a 10-block accident scene to investigate, many of the city's police officers blocked off traffic along Sixth Avenue, a major, one-way channel out of downtown Anchorage.

Police called in a barricade company to help block streets. Police also sealed off business parking lots with barricades and crime-scene tape.

Bloodgood said the five-hour shutdown of Sixth Avenue was necessary given the unusual scale of the accident scene. Investigators needed to take pictures, measurements and collect evidence.

"The guy was dragged across an asphalt surface for a significant distance," he said.

Investigators were trying to determine exactly how the victim got caught in the truck wheels. They're not sure if he was standing on the corner or in the street, or whether the long semi cut close to or over the corner as it turned off A Street onto Sixth Avenue, Bloodgood said.

The truck driver, Stephen W. Haines, 57, voluntarily took a toxicology test after the accident and "did not exhibit any signs of impairment," according to police.

The victim carried documentation but the medical examiner will use fingerprints to make a positive identification next week, Bloodgood said.

Haines was driving the dump truck for RL Trucking, doing business as Alaska Freightways of Anchorage, he said.

At least eight pedestrians have died this year in Anchorage, compared to four in each of the two prior years. Police say chances of pedestrian deaths go up with the onset of winter snow and darkness.

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