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Fairbanks, Alaska—The Fairbanks Daily News Miner reports that 28 year old Nathan Gray of Fairbanks died last week when he lost control of his motorcycle and traveled off of the Johansen Expressway. According to reports, Gray may have been traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour when he lost control of his bike at a slight curve in the roadway. It is possible that Gray was racing another vehicle at the time of the crash, but it is unknown whether Gray’s speed, the other driver, or roadway defects were the cause of the accident.

Our thoughts and sympathies go out to Nathan’s loved ones. Any death is a tragedy, but the passing of one so young can be especially trying for the friends and family of the deceased. We wish you the best in your time of grief. As you move through the healing process, there are a few things you should know/do:

(1) As soon as possible, seek out the incident report from the Alaska State Troopers ASAP. (Visit for information on obtaining reports.) The police report will provide valuable information about the cause of the accident. If there were roadway abnormalities, those may be noted in the report. If the other driver made statements to the police, or if there were witnesses to the accident, that may also be noted in the report. Tracking down and reviewing the trooper’s report is the best way to get information about the accident quickly and is the first step in trying to determine who/what caused the accident.

(2) Consider hiring an investigator to examine the scene of the accident. The report suggests that this accident occurred on a very slight curve in the road, one which may be dangerous at high speeds. Certainly it is everyone’s responsibility to slow down and drive safely—but it is also the state’s responsibility use our tax dollars to maintain roadways and to place proper signage which warns motorists of curves and other hazards in the road which might prove dangerous at high speeds. If you don’t know anyone who does accident investigation/reconstruction, please see step three (hiring an attorney). However, you can always go out to the scene of the accident (Johansen between College and Danby) and take as many pictures as you can of the roadway and the curve from as many different angles as possible.

Once you have done this you should:

(3) Contact an attorney to help you ASAP. Depending on the circumstances you may or may not have a viable claim against the city/state and also against the driver Nathan may have been racing. While you are certainly free to contact Mr. Merdes at 866-735-1102 Ext. 455, this is not a solicitation or legal advice. If you would like a referral, feel free to contact Ward Merdes or call the Alaska Bar Assn. for a free lawyer referral: 800-770-9999. You can also try the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) at Just be sure to call an attorney who has handled cases like this before.

(4) Remember that the Statute of Limitations for personal injury and death claims in Alaska is normally two years (AS 09.10.070). This means that you have two years to file your claim, settle it with the responsible party or your claim goes away and you may lose the ability to pursue it.

(5) Because Nathan has died, this is a possible wrongful death case. Any of Nathan’s dependents can file a wrongful death claim on his behalf and so can his estate if he lacks dependents. It is not clear who is and is not a dependent under Alaskan law, but it certainly includes children, spouses, parents and any other person who lived with Nathan and received support/assistance from him. A wrongful death claim will compensate Nathan’s dependents or his estate for his medical bills, property damage and funeral/burial expenses. The wrongful death claim will exist to compensate these losses, even if Nathan has no dependents. However, if Nathan does have dependents, they may also be able to bring what is known as a survivor action. A survivor action may allow Nathan’s dependents to recover damages for the pain and suffering he endured as a result of the crash prior to his death


Always remember it’s critical that everyone drive safely and carefully as Alaskan roads can be very dangerous. Racing and driving extremely fast is dangerous for everyone involved. Even if you believe you can handle it or that your car is equipped for less cautious driving, remember that not everyone you may choose to race with is similarly skilled or equipped. Err on the side of caution and drive safe. For more information about staying safe on Alaska’s icy roads, please visit

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