Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Two-car accident sends one to hospital

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JUNEAU - A two-car accident on Egan Drive near Vanderbilt Road on Monday evening sent a 53-year-old woman to Bartlett Regional Hospital after rescue crews freed her from a totaled Toyota Corolla with the "jaws of life," police said.

The accident happened shortly after 6:10 p.m. when the Toyota driver turned against a red light, police said. Her car was struck broadside by a Nissan pickup truck driven by a 26-year-old woman, police said.

The second driver also went to the hospital with less serious injuries, police said.

Oil spill reportedat Kuparuk field

ANCHORAGE - A 6-inch rupture was discovered in a North Slope pipeline after it spilled nearly 4,300 gallons, a state official said Monday.

The spill, a mixture of oil and water, was discovered by field workers Sunday after they heard a whistling noise along the leaking pipeline in the Kuparuk oil field, Alaska's second-largest.

The cause of the spill is still under investigation, said Leslie Pearson, emergency response manager for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

About 50 responders were at the scene Monday night, including contractors and workers from field operator ConocoPhillips.

The 24-inch diameter pipeline carries a mix of oil, water and gas between two production pads near Central Processing Facility 2.

About 1,200 square feet of tundra have been affected, Pearson said, and spray from the pressurized pipe extends about 500 yards.

Workers at the scene are determining the cause of the leak and cleaning up the spill, Pearson said.

They are building a 300-yard ice road to improve access to the site, and will build a berm around the impacted area, Pearson said. Then warm water will be used to lift the oil out of the tundra, covered by about 6 inches of snow.

ConocoPhillips operates Kuparuk on behalf of itself and other owners including BP and Chevron.

Man enters not guilty plea in plane threat

ANCHORAGE - A man who falsely claimed to have taken a bomb onboard an Alaska Airlines flight last month has pleaded not guilty to a federal charge of threatening to destroy aircraft with an explosive.

Kirk Frederick Forest of Wyoming entered the plea Monday, even though that wasn't his wish.

He said, "I want to plead guilty. I can't lie in front of God, he sees everything."

His regular attorney was not present, however, so the court compelled him to enter the not guilty plea. A trial was tentatively set for February.

Forest was arrested in Anchorage after threatening to blow up the Nov. 28 flight from Seattle.

Passengers say the 39-year-old paced the aisles of the airplane clutching a Bible and mumbling religious phrases before making the bomb threat.

Nine indicted in mortgage fraud

ANCHORAGE - A federal grand jury has indicted nine people and one corporation in a $1.7 million fraud scheme.

The U.S. Attorney's office says those indicted engaged in a three-year scheme to defraud some 13 banks and home loan mortgage companies in 57 different loan transactions. That resulted in more than a $1 million loss to the financial institutions.

The 64-count indictment named as defendants Lance Lockard of Florida, Holli Stroud, of Chugiak, and Anchorage residents Gary Paterna, Charles Carlson, Jonathan Ruf, Keith Facer, Don Murray, Cerise Sanders and Susan McCready. Also indicted was Alaska State Mortgage Co. of Anchorage.

The U.S. Attorney's office says the scheme included fake buyers, inflated appraisals, and falsified down payments, title documents and loan applications.

UAF student wins Miss Alaska USA

FAIRBANKS - A political science student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has been crowned Miss Alaska USA.

Courtney Carroll will now compete in the Miss USA Pageant early next year.

The 25-year-old Carroll is the daughter of Pat Carroll and Gwen Hoffman and is the step-daughter of Fairbanks Police Chief Dan Hoffman.

She was named both Miss World Eskimo-Indian Olympics and Miss Fairbanks Native Association in 2001.

Carroll has worked as a tour guide for the Riverboat Discovery and has been involved with the Christian service organization Young Life.

Soldier makes plaque for fallen comrades

FORT WAINWRIGHT - A North Pole soldier has created a memorial for five fellow Fort Wainwright soldiers killed last August in a helicopter crash in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Michael Tomlinson carved a plaque of the names of the five soldiers and a CH47-D Chinook Helicopter.

The Chinook's main frame was crafted from a piece of solid oak while the engine, rotor blades and name plates were hand-carved from pine.

The project took about two months, and Tomlinson says it was difficult finding good-quality oak and pine in Iraq.

Staff Sgts. Sean Fisher and Stanley Reynolds; Spc. Steven Jewell; and Chief Warrant Officers Christopher Johnson and Jackie McFarlane were killed when their helicopter crashed near Al Taqaddum Air Base in Iraq.

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