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Man Dies in Seward Highway Crash Involving Car, 2 Motorcycles

July 25, 2013|By Jessica Ridgway | Channel 2 News
Abby Lindsay

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska State Troopers have identified the people, all Anchorage residents, involved in Wednesday night's rear-ending of a BMW coupe that left one motorcyclist dead and another wounded.

According to AST spokesperson Beth Ipsen, the deceased motorcyclist was 61-year-old John Beyers. Troopers initially said Beyers was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, but said Thursday morning after speaking with witnesses that he was. Beyers was pronounced dead by medical staff at Providence Alaska Medical Center, with his next of kin present.

Beyers worked as a chaplain for the Anchorage Jail, and was remembered by his supervisor Thursday as a man with a huge heart.

“I don't care how much education you have -- you cannot duplicate a big, tender heart," said Jim Duncan, the statewide chaplain for the Alaska Department of Corrections.

In an e-mail to Channel 2 Wednesday night, Ipsen wrote that troopers responded to the crash, near Mile 92.5 of the highway, at about 9 p.m. A BMW coupe driven by Gerald Hanson, 60, was headed north on the highway, followed by three motorcyclists -- Beyers, as well as Robert Farrington, 67, and Lee Lawson, 58 -- "riding in a staggered formation."

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"The first motorcycle was riding on the left, the second to the right and back a bit, and the third motorcycle to the right and back, which is normal for motorcycles when they ride together," Ipsen wrote.

Hanson was slowing the BMW down to make a left turn into a pull-out area on the "inlet side" of the highway when Beyers' motorcycle ran into the sedan.

"The first motorcycle rolled and (Farrington's) motorcycle hit the first one. Both crashed," Ipsen wrote. "(Lawson's) motorcycle managed to avoid the collision."

Beyers and Farrington, both of whom had been riding Yamaha Venture Star motorcycles, were taken by ambulance to Providence. Farrington was treated for minor injuries sustained in the crash. Neither Hanson nor his wife and passenger, 68-year-old Brenda Hanson, were injured.

The highway was closed for about 90 minutes as troopers investigated the collision, with its southbound lane reopened to traffic at 10:41 p.m.

According to Duncan, Beyers started the Transformation Living Community, a faith-based therapeutic program at the Palmer Correctional Center in the Mat-Su Valley. TLC’s inmates have what Duncan says is probably the lowest recidivism rate of any program in the Department of Corrections.

During an interview with Channel 2, Duncan mentioned a recent story involving Beyers.

“A young man went into his office a few months ago and stopped him and said, ‘Chaplain, can you help me? I have lost my way,’” Duncan said. “And it was his second night in prison and he could not have walked into a better office and asked for help from a better man than Chaplain John Beyers.”

Duncan says Beyers is survived by his wife and two daughters, and that he will be missed.

Channel 2's Ashleigh Ebert and Sarah Evans contributed to this story.

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