2 teens killed after pickup truck crashes into 900-foot Unalaska ravine
A pair of Unalaska teens died Thursday when the pickup truck they were in crashed into a steep ravine near the Aleutian Islands community. The driver survived.
According to a statement from the local Department of Public Safety, Unalaska police and medics received word of the crash near Ulakta Head on Ballyhoo Mountain at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
The crash claimed the lives of 16-year-old Karly McDonald and 18-year-old Kiara Renteria.
“Responders arrived and determined that an occupied 2001 blue Ford pickup had left the roadway and tumbled approximately 900 feet to the shoreline below,” department officials wrote.
The driver, 18-year-old Dustin Ruckman, told responders he lost control of the vehicle just before the crash.
“Ruckman claimed to have been thrown from the vehicle as it descended down a steep ravine with the two girls still inside,” officials wrote.
After the crash, Ruckman said he climbed back to the road and ran down the mountain’s east side, where he was able to stop another driver who called 911.
Unalaska Department of Public Safety officials said it was difficult for responders to approach the scene because of the terrain and shoreline conditions.
“Responders searched the ravine at great personal risk from above and below for a long while looking for McDonald and Renteria before finding their bodies some distance apart where each had been thrown as the truck broke into pieces on its way down the mountain,” department officials wrote.
McDonald and Renteria were declared dead at about 5 p.m. Thursday, according to the statement. Their families have been notified.
All three teens involved in the crash were lifelong Unalaska residents and students at Unalaska High School. Ruckman and Renteria were seniors, while McDonald was a junior.
Unalaska City School District released a statement mourning the deaths in the crash. The school remained open Friday, but any students unable to attend were excused for the day.
“You can imagine how impacting this is to a small community that’s isolated,” Unalaska’s interim police chief John Lucking said. “These girls grew up here and are part of the fine weave of our town.”
Crews were still working to recover the girls’ remains Friday. Lucking said the U.S. Coast Guard sent a mountain rescue team from Kodiak to help in the effort.
Correction: An earlier version of this story listed Kiara Renteria's age as 17 years old. An obituary written by the family states she was 18 years old.
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