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Anchorage, Alaska—The Alaska Daily News reports that 19 year old soldier Travis Foster died in a car crash on the Tok Cutoff near Anchorage on December 21, 2008. According to reports, Mr. Foster was driving north on the cutoff when, for reasons unknown, he crossed the centerline and collided with a freightliner traveling in the opposite direction. Reports do not indicate what the possible causes of the accident may have been and do not specify whether drugs or alcohol were involved.

Our hearts and condolences go out to Mr. Foster’s friends and family. We are deeply sorry for your loss. While you must undoubtedly take time to grieve and mourn Travis’ death, it is also important that you be mindful of the rights you have as Travis’ survivors. We know that the weeks immediately following the death of a loved one can seem like a daze and are often very confusing, so here’s what you need to know:

(1) 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 never be able to recover for the damages associated with Travis’ death. As Travis’ successors you are able to bring a claim on his behalf to recover for damages associated with his death in the event that it was caused by the other driver’s negligence, or unsafe road conditions as a result of municipal negligence. In addition to being able to recover for the loss of Travis’ life and damage to his property, you may also be able to sue for any suffering he endured prior to his death but following the accident.

(2) You may want to investigate whether the driver of the freightliner (Ronald Auzenne of Lacey, Washinton) was on the clock at any job at the time of the accident. If he was working for someone when the collision occurred, you may be able to bring a claim against his employer(s) and their insurance company for compensation for Travis’ death and related expenses.

(3) Look into hiring a good accident re-constructionist. People do not typically cross over into the other lane of traffic without a reason. It’s possible that a flaw in the roadway’s design or a failure to properly maintain the roadway on the part of Alaskan government may be responsible for the accident. It’s also possible that the actions of another driver, one not mentioned in the article, may have caused the accident. The only way to know whether this is the case is to hire an investigator as soon as possible. If you wait too long, all the evidence needed to re-construct the accident may be gone. Feel free to contact Ward Merdes (info below) for a referral to an accident re-constructionist in Alaska.

(4) Contact an attorney to help you ASAP. While you are certainly free to contact Mr. Merdes at 866-735-1102 Ext. 455, this is not a solicitation or legal advice. This is offered as information to Mr. Foster’s family. If you would like a referral, feel free to contact Ward Merdes or try the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) at Just be sure to call an attorney who has handled cases like this before.

No matter what the circumstances surrounding the accident were, it’s critical that everyone drive safely and carefully because icy Alaskan roads can be very dangerous. For more information about staying safe on Alaska’s icy roads and everywhere else, please visit

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