Airman slipped on ice, fell off Tanana River bridge, troopers say

the Tanana River bridge
There’s not much room for pedestrians along both lanes of the Tanana River bridge in Big Delta, and snow and ice buildup along the edges of the bridge deck present an additional hazard. That’s probably why 22-year-old Kaylee Slagle slipped and fell over the side of the bridge, Alaska State Troopers concluded in their investigation into the Feb. 18 incident. (Tim Ellis/KUAC)

Alaska State Troopers have released more information about an incident last month in which a woman fell from a Richardson Highway bridge over the Tanana River near Delta Junction. She’s still undergoing treatment at a Fairbanks hospital for injuries she sustained.

Troopers have completed their investigation into the Feb. 18 incident and on Tuesday they released the name of the victim — 22-year-old Kaylee Slagle of Eielson Air Force Base. A base spokesperson said she’s an airman first class assigned to the 354th Security Forces Squadron.

Troopers also released some information Tuesday about how Slagle fell from the bridge deck and landed on an ice shelf 30 feet below. Spokesperson Austin McDaniel said Slagle and two companions reportedly were out and about sightseeing when they decided to stop and check out the bridge.

“Somebody slipped and fell on ice and unfortunately went over the bridge,” he said.

McDaniel said one of Slagle’s companions called for help at around 5:45 a.m. that day. First-responders from Fort Greely and Delta Junction-area agencies rescued Slagle and transported her to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital in critical condition. A hospital official said Tuesday that Slagle is still there, undergoing treatment, and that her condition has been upgraded to stable.

McDaniel says pedestrians should be extremely careful walking on any icy surface, especially on a bridge with no sidewalks and only waist-high guardrails, like the one over the Tanana in Big Delta.

“We don’t want people falling off of bridges or falling over cliffs or embankments,” he said. “So, just be cautious of your footing and acting in a safe manner for the area that you’re in.”

McDaniel says neither Slagle nor her companions have been charged with any offenses related to the incident.

Tim Ellis is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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