COURTESY OF ALASKA STATE TROOPERS
Makakilo couple Jeffrey and Dawn Klausing died Tuesday after a motor home they were riding in crashed off Seward Highway in Alaska.
Motor home crash in Alaska kills isle couple
A Hawaii couple died Tuesday during a vacation in Alaska when a motor home they were riding in crashed into trees along the freeway.
Jeffrey and Dawn Klausing, both 41, were in a 2007 motor home with five people from Hawaii and Indiana before the single-vehicle crash, Alaska state troopers said. The accident occurred on Kenai Peninsula in south Alaska, about 150 miles from Anchorage.
Dale Podoll, 58, another Hawaii resident, was driving the motor home northbound on Seward Highway near the 24th mile when the vehicle's tires left the pavement, sending the motor home into a ditch about 3:40 p.m. Alaska time, authorities said.
The motor home struck several trees and was ripped open on the passenger side, ejecting the Klausings, who were pronounced dead at the scene.
Dale Podoll's wife, Eileen, 57, was flown to the Alaska Regional Hospital in critical condition. A hospital supervisor said yesterday that she had improved to stable condition.
Also injured in the crash were passengers Catherine Dagata, 28, of Hawaii; Donald Bobilya, 73, of Indiana; and Fatima Leonard, 30, of Hawaii. All three were taken to area hospitals; their conditions were not available yesterday.
Dale Podoll sustained minor injuries and declined treatment, said Beth Ipsen, Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman.
Podoll and his wife were wearing seat belts, she said, adding that motor homes typically do not have seat belts for cabin passengers. Investigators were studying the cause of the crash.
Ipsen said the group had finished a fishing charter boat ride in Seward and was heading back to Russian River Campground where two other motor homes that were part of a caravan were waiting.
David White, Eileen Podoll's twin brother, said he knew the Klausings from his sister. He is in Hawaii taking care of his mother during his sister's vacation to Alaska.
"Jeff was Dale's best friend," White said. The couple worked for the Department of Defense and had two children, possibly 7 and 2, who were at the campsite at the time of the crash, he said.
Jeffrey Klausing was stationed in Alaska during his time in the Air Force and met Dale Podoll in the service. The two remained friends for about 12 years since, White said. The group left for vacation and salmon fishing in Alaska on Tuesday and were expecting to return Saturday.
Kerri Schiavi, manager of ABC Motorhome and Car Rentals, which owns the 30-foot motor home that crashed, said the vehicle was rented for nine days until Friday.
"It's a tragic accident," she said.