'A very sweet guy:' Loved one mourns Parks crash victim
A late-night Friday crash in slick conditions on the Parks Highway, roughly midway between Anchorage and Fairbanks, killed a passenger and gravely injured a driver in one of the vehicles involved.
An Alaska State Troopers dispatch on the death of 28-year-old Fairbanks resident Willie Graham said he was riding in a northbound 2016 Toyota Camry driven by 20-year-old Meghan Blemke, also of Fairbanks. Troopers were informed at about 10:20 p.m. of the crash, near Mile 172 of the Parks, in which Blemke “lost control and crossed the center line of the highway.”
“The vehicle was T-boned by a 2017 Jeep Wrangler being driven southbound by Dominic Comerate, age 25 of Fairbanks,” troopers wrote. “At the time of the collision temperatures were approximately 29 degrees and rain/snow was falling. Road conditions were reported to be wet with icy spots.”
Graham died at the scene, troopers said, and Blemke was taken to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage with “serious and life-threatening injuries” by ground-based medics and a LifeMed air ambulance. Providence staff had Blemke listed in critical condition Saturday.
Misty Wright said on Facebook Saturday that Graham had been dating her daughter, 24-year-old Vanessa Reese, early last year.
"Willie was a very sweet guy," Wright said. "He was very kind and you could feel his love in his hugs. He had a warmth about him."
According to Fairbanks police, Reese was fatally shot in February 2017 by an estranged boyfriend who then turned the gun on himself. Graham and Wright were left to deal with the devastating loss while caring for Reese's two children.
"When Vanessa passed, he had these shirts made and sold, then gave me the money to help with funeral costs and my grandkids," Wright said. "I would have never made it without him at that time."
Comerate, as well as a passenger and a dog in the Jeep, were unhurt Friday. Troopers said everyone involved in the crash was wearing seat belts.
Medics from Trapper Creek, Talkeetna and Cantwell responded to the wreck, after troopers said “multiple good Samaritans” stopped to provide first aid.
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