Kenneth Albright, 03-24-08

Snowmachiner dies after collision with pickup
TOK: Alcohol a factor as machine burst into road, troopers say.

By JAMES HALPIN, March 26th, 2008

A Tok man is dead and another hospitalized after their snowmachine burst onto a side street without stopping and into the path of an oncoming truck, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Kenneth Albright, 51, was driving a 2006 Arctic Cat snowmachine across Midnight Sun Drive where it intersects with the Tetlin Trail when he collided with a 1999 Ford F-250 driven by a 16-year-old at about 7 p.m. Monday, troopers said.

"It was a very narrow road to travel, there were trees lining both sides," troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said. "It is a small two-lane road that was essentially down to one lane due to snow."

The distance between trees on either side of the road was about 50 feet, Peters said.

Albright and his passenger, Blake Weisenbach, 22, were taken to Tok Medical Clinic, where Albright died, she said. Weisenbach was medevacked to Alaska Regional Hospital, where he was being treated for his injuries. Hospital officials said Weisenbach was in fair condition Tuesday.

The boy driving the truck had a learner's permit and was under the supervision of a licensed driver at the time of the crash, Peters said.

Judging by witness reports and skid marks at the scene, the truck was going between 15 and 20 mph when it struck the snowmachiner, she said. Investigators were still trying to determine how fast the snowmachine was traveling, and they had not yet been able to interview Weisenbach.

Troopers say they suspect alcohol was a factor in the crash, and toxicology screenings have been ordered for both drivers.

"We believe alcohol was a factor because troopers on scene could smell it on the snowmachiner," Peters said.

There were four people inside the Ford; all were wearing their seat belts and were uninjured, Peters said. Troopers refused to name the minor driving the truck or any other people inside, saying the information "could be embarrassing."