Soldotna, Alaska—KTTU and the Anchorage Daily News report that a head-on collision left 1 dead and 8 injured (3 critically) on February 16, 2009. At around 3:25 p.m., while traveling along the Sterling Highway, a 2000 Ford Windstar driven by 74-year old Saylor Rehm of Kenai collided head-on with a 2006 Dodge Pick-up driven by Galen McIver of Wasilla. The crash closed the Sterling highway between Soldotna and Sterling for more than four hours as emergency response teams tended to the injured and removed the vehicles from the roadway. 58 year old Cindy Rehm, a passenger in the Ford Windstar, perished in the accident. 3 of the passengers from both vehicles were listed in critical condition as of this writing and 5 others sustained injuries in the crash.
According to KTTU: “In addition to Saylor and Cindy Rehm, the other passengers in the Windstar were Danielle Rehm, 17; Kyle Wisnewski, 18; Leah Stephens, 18; and Randy Jackson, 16. All reside in Kenai. The three occupants of the Dodge were driver Galen McIver, 48; Daniel Monk, 45; and Dawson Monk, 45. All live in Wasilla.”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to those injured and in critical condition. We wish you a speedy recovery and hope that you have not suffered any lasting injury in the crash. We also share the sorrow of the Rehm family and offer our sincerest condolences to Cindy’s loved ones. We are very sorry for your loss. We know that grief and the aftermath of an accident can be confusing and overwhelming. Here are a few things that you should know:
The KTTU report suggests that the driver of the Windstar, Saylor Rehm may have fallen asleep at the wheel. Nonetheless, it is not 100% clear who is responsible for the accident or what caused it. Even if Mr. Rehm did fall asleep, it is unknown what caused that. The only ways to find out who is responsible for the accident are to:
(1) Seek out the incident report from the Alaska State Troopers ASAP. (Visit http://www.dps.state.ak.us/PIO/ for information on obtaining reports.)
(2) Hire an investigator to examine the scene of the accident. It may already be too late to determine the exact conditions of the road or other helpful information, but the sooner you can collect evidence from the scene where the accident happened, the more valuable it will be.
Once you have this information you should:
(3) Contact an attorney to help you ASAP. Depending on the circumstances you may or may not have a viable claim. 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 the families involved. 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 www.nbtanet.org. 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. Ms. Rehm’s survivors can bring claims on her behalf. Her natural survivors would be a spouse or child.
(5) Also be aware that if Saylor Rehm had an insurance policy, even his passengers can make claims against this policy in order to recoup their medical expenses and money for injuries they have suffered. This is of course also true for the occupants of the Dodge if Mr. Rehm was at fault.
(6) Never forget that anything you say to your or anyone else’s insurance company may be recorded and can later be used against you. We encourage you to contact an attorney as soon as possible so they can advise you how to handle your own insurance company and so they can deal with the other guy’s.
(7) Always remember it’s critical that everyone drive safely and carefully as Alaska roads can be very dangerous. For more information about staying safe on Alaska’s icy roads, please visit www.slowdownalaska.org.