Investigation Continues Into East End Road Accident

Aaron Selbig
Emergency responders gather at the scene of the accident Wednesday morning.
Aaron Selbig photo

     Investigators are taking a closer look at a single-vehicle accident that killed a Soldotna man Wednesday morning east of Homer. It is not yet known what exactly caused 29-year-old Trevor Cunningham’s truck to go off the road.

     Cunningham was driving a large commercial truck filled with drilling mud from the West Eagle drilling site when, at about 10:25 a.m., his vehicle plunged over an embankment on the south side of East End Road. He was ejected from the vehicle during the accident and was later pronounced dead at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer.

     The West Eagle project is owned and operated by Buccaneer Energy. No one involved with the project felt like talking about the accident on the air.

     Buccaneer Spokesperson Jay Morakis referred all questions to James Charo of AIMM Technologies, Inc., a contractor working for Buccaneer on the project.

     Charo declined to go on the air, referring inquiries to a company press release put out Wednesday. In the release, company officials said they were “deeply saddened” by the loss of Mr. Cunningham. Officials promised the company would fully cooperate with investigation conducted by the Troopers and the Alaska Department of Conservation.

     Charo did not know how long Cunningham had been employed with AIMM.

     Jade Gamble is a spill responder with the state DEC office in Soldotna. She confirmed that Cunningham was transporting drilling mud from the West Eagle site, a massive lease area 21 miles east of Homer where Buccaneer has recently begun drilling operations.

     Gamble was the first environmental investigator on the crash scene Wednesday. 

     "There's been some ... drilling cuttings that came out of the tank," said Gamble. "It's a small amount and they are working on cleaning that up today."

     Gamble says Buccaneer has not yet drilled very far at West Eagle – less than 500-feet – so there is no danger of hydrocarbons being present in the spilled drilling mud. She said a small amount of hydraulic oil and gasoline was also spilled from the truck.

     Gamble says the drilling mud was most likely headed for the Kenai Peninsula Borough landfill in Soldotna. She says emergency responders from Kachemak Emergency Services placed protective boom around the site Wednesday. On Thursday, workers with AIMM Technologies were out at the site with vacuum trucks, picking up the contaminated soil.

     Gamble says she will soon be inspecting the site again, to make sure the cleanup meets DEC standards.

     Trooper Spokesperson Beth Ipsen said the Alaska Bureau of Highway Patrol was continuing its investigation and as of Thursday, did not have any new information about the crash.