A one-vehicle accident early on the Fourth of July killed Jonathan Michael Graham of Haines just two weeks after his 21st birthday.
Graham was driving west on Main Street around 1:50 a.m. in a 2002 Toyota pickup truck he borrowed from a friend when the vehicle left the road where it merges with the Haines Highway, said police chief Gary Lowe.
Lowe said "early indications" following the accident showed "there was alcohol involved" and Graham’s failure to make the curve to the right was "probably speed-related." Graham was not wearing a seatbelt.
The truck went into a ditch, crossed the Bigfoot Auto Service parking lot, entered another ditch and settled on its driver’s side in front of Haines Home Building Supply, Lowe said.
Ambulance and fire crews and police responded to the accident. They found Graham alone in the vehicle and non-responsive, with head and chest injuries, Lowe said. Graham was extricated from the truck and taken to the Haines clinic, where he was pronounced dead.
Lowe said Graham’s body was sent to Anchorage for an autopsy, and police are investigating what led up to the accident.
In less than a week before the Fourth of July holiday, the department made three arrests for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
Graham was born in Wisconsin in 1990, and his family moved to Haines in 2004. He attended Haines High School and wanted to become a diesel mechanic. Graham turned 21 on June 20 and resided on Chilkat Lake Road at 26 Mile Haines Highway.
Lowe said emergency personnel had "a personal connection" to Graham and his family.
"It’s hard for the employees here," he said. "Some have been longtime residents of the community, and you know pretty much everybody."
Haines High School teacher Mark Fontenot said he’d called Graham’s closest friends and urged them to mourn with caution.
"I told them if they do party, leave the keys at home. No one wants this to happen again."