2 found dead in vehicle on Steese Highway near Eagle Summit

a hat
Alaska State Trooper hat. (Alaska Public Media file photo)

Update, 2:45 p.m. Tuesday:

Alaska State Troopers have identified the two people found dead in a vehicle on the Steese Highway last night as a couple from Circle.

According to an online dispatch, John Carroll, 59, and Tonya Carroll, 55, were the vehicle’s two occupants discovered Wednesday night amid extreme weather conditions that also stranded two other vehicles on the highway.

The Carrolls’ bodies were sent to the state medical examiner’s office last week for an autopsy.

Original story:

Two people were found dead in a vehicle on the Steese Highway Wednesday night, according to Alaska State Troopers, with their bodies recovered Friday after poor weather hindered initial efforts.

Troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel said Friday that troopers and state Department of Transportation personnel had traveled to Eagle Summit, on the highway north of Fairbanks, to retrieve the bodies. No foul play is currently suspected in their deaths.

According to an online dispatch posted Friday afternoon, troopers received word just before 6 p.m. Wednesday that two people who had left Fairbanks earlier that day en route to Circle had not yet arrived.

“The vehicle had been spotted stuck in snow at Eagle Summit on the Steese Highway earlier in the day, however, the person that spotted the vehicle was unable to stop to check on the vehicle due to extreme weather conditions in the area,” troopers wrote.

The exposed section of highway, through the mountains outside of Central, has been hit by high winds and snow in recent days.

A trooper responded to the scene with help from a DOT road crew, in winds gusting to 60 mph with snowdrifts McDaniel said were up to 10 feet deep on the highway.

“The trooper broke the window on the vehicle and located the missing adults, both deceased, inside the vehicle,” troopers wrote. “The extreme weather conditions prevented the trooper from safely recovering the bodies, so the vehicle was secured until they could safely be recovered.”

Two other vehicles that ran out of fuel or became trapped in the area were assisted by road crews that evening, troopers said.

Improving weather on Friday allowed a road crew, trooper and tow truck to reach the site where the bodies were found and retrieve the vehicle.

The bodies have been sent to the state medical examiner’s office for autopsy and positive identification, troopers said, with notifications of families still pending.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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