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Feodor Fefelov

Speed claims 3 more lives on Seward Highway
by Megan Baldino

Anchorage, Alaska, Aug. 21 - Another tragic accident on the Seward Highway. Less than one week and one mile from where a triple fatality occurred Aug. 15, another triple fatality happened Wednesday night when two vehicles collided near Mile 74.

At the Alaska State Troopers' impound lot, there's not much left of the pickup truck or the Hyundai that crashed head-on about 9:30 p.m.

The driver of the pickup died, as did the driver and passenger of the sedan -- all because the driver of the pickup wanted to get to wherever he was going a little faster.

At the state troopers' impound lot, the pickup shows how even an airbag can't save everyone.

Debris still littered the highway Thursday morning near Mile 74, but most motorists passed without noticing. If they'd seen what happened here the previous night, they just might slow down.

"The roads were dry," said AST Sgt. Keith Mallard. "It was just someone passing when they shouldn't have been."

That someone apparently was the driver of the pickup truck, 45-year-old Feodor Fefelov. Troopers say he was driving like so many other people on the Seward Highway -- in a hurry.

"It certainly is getting a little bit too familiar for us," said Mallard.

Fefelov was traveling northbound when he tried to pass some slower traffic. He crossed the double yellow line illegally and ended up in the southbound passing lane. Unfortunately, there was another car already in the lane. Both cars tried to avoid each other, but troopers say they both swerved the same direction and collided head-on.

The wreckage of the Hyundai sits in the impound yard. Both occupants were killed.

"Both occupants of the passenger vehicle died," Sgt. Mallard said. "The driver of the truck also died."

Five passengers in the pickup were taken to Anchorage hospitals, including a 42-year-old women in serious condition and a 1-year-old infant who was ejected from the truck, still in her car seat.

"It was an extremely high-speed crash," said Girdwood Fire Chief Bill Chadwick. He and his crew responded to the scene Wednesday night.

Chadwick said accidents on this stretch of highway are becoming far too frequent.

The other fatal accident, last Friday night, also was the result of speeding. Three young people died in that accident when their Ford Mustang hit a motorhome head-on. A mother and daughter in the motorhome were pulled from the wreckage just before it exploded, and were taken to the hospital with injuries that, fortunately, were not life-threatening.

"To be quite frank about it, we've been expecting a major accident or two or three or more like this, just because of the way people have been driving," Chadwick said.

Too fast, too competitive, too recklessly.

Chadwick and Sgt. Mallard, who was still examining the two vehicles Thursday at the impound lot, are urging drivers to be careful.

"Just be a little bit patient," Mallard said. "Know that getting in front of that car in front of you is not going to get you there any sooner, especially this time of year when the traffic is so heavy."

Sgt. Mallard and other troopers plan to step up enforcement of speeding and passing laws.

More than their own warnings, Mallard and Chadwick hope that mental images like these crumpled cars and this memorial will slow drivers down. "Life is too short to end up in a crumpled piece of metal next to the highway," Chadwick said.

As for the survivors from the pickup truck, 42-year-old Afimia Fefelov is listed in serious condition at Providence Alaska Medical Center, and 13-year-old Kir Fefelov is listed in stable condition at Alaska Regional Hospital.

Solomonia Fefelov, 23, was treated and released from Alaska Regional, as was 1-year-old Akilina Murachev.

Nikolai Murachev is listed in stable condition at Alaska Regional.

Chadwick said Thursday that, according to people who first arrived on the scene, the baby was crawling away from the accident -- at least one miracle from the tragedy.

Alaska State Troopers say they are going to be out in force on that stretch of the Seward Highway, watching for drivers who are breaking the law by speeding and passing illegally.

Source:  Anchorage Daily News, 21 August 2003



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