Roger Gollub, 11-20-08

Anchorage doctor hit, killed by snowmachine

By KYLE HOPKINS,, Published: November 20th, 2008
Roger Gollub
A snowmachine hit a dogsled on a trail outside Kotzebue Wednesday night, killing an Anchorage physician, according to state troopers. Troopers said there were indications the snowmachine driver had been drinking. Troopers identified the musher as Roger Gollub, a 53-year-old pediatrician who was in Kotzebue to treat children at the local health clinic. The collision also injured a woman riding in the sled, 39-year-old Tracey Schaeffer, who was flown to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage for treatment, said trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters.

Troopers learned of the accident, 3.4 miles northeast of Kotzebue, at 9:07 p.m. Wednesday.

Patrick Tickett, 20, was driving the snowmachine, which carried a passenger, Clarissa Cleveland, also 20, Peters said. Both are from Ambler.

"He was taking her to Noorvik on one of the established trails in the area," Peters said.

Troopers suspect the snowmachine struck Gollub and then the sled, Peters said. Tickett went for help but couldn't get far on his damaged snowmachine.

Asked if there were any signs the driver had been drinking, Kotzebue Sgt Karl Main said yes.

"Alcohol was involved with this incident," he said.

Troopers are still investigating the crash.

None of the dogs were injured, Main said.

Schaeffer, a musher, owns a business called Iviq Adventures and is a licensed physical and occupational therapist, according to public records. Her husband, Chuck Schaeffer, is listed as chairman of the Kobuk 440 Racing Association on the Kotzebue Dog Mushers Association Web site.

Gollub works at the Alaska Native Medical Center and periodically went to Kotzebue as a visiting specialist, said Dr. Ruth Ann Zent, medical director for the local Maniiluq Health Center.

He had a full schedule of appointments with local children today, Zent said.

Zent knew Gollub as a colleague but said he has also treated members of her family.

"I just thought he was a fabulous physician and a very sweet man at the same time," she said.

Driver in fatal snowmachine crash had been drinking

By RACHEL D'ORO, The Associated Press. November 21st, 2008

A 20-year-old man had been drinking before he set off on a frozen trail and rammed a dog sled with his snowmachine, killing the musher and severely injuring a passenger in the sled, authorities said Friday.

State troopers said they also are investigating reports that snowmachine driver Patrick Tickett and his passenger declined requests by the injured woman, Tracy Schaeffer, for one of them remain at the scene.

The woman's husband, Chuck Schaeffer, said his wife told him she could have used assistance tying a tourniquet on the mangled leg of Roger Gollub, a 53-year-old Anchorage pediatrician who treated Alaska Native children.

Gollub was making his first sled dog run, courtesy of Schaeffer, an occupational therapist who runs a mushing excursion business on the side. Chuck Schaeffer said his wife let the doctor drive to give him the full mushing experience.

Gollub ultimately died after the crash Wednesday night, a few miles from the coastal town of Kotzebue.

Both Tickett and his passenger, 20-year-old Clarissa Cleveland, headed back to Kotzebue to look for help. They went on foot because the snowmobile's belt broke, but they soon encountered another snowmobiler who took them back to town.

Chuck Schaeffer said Friday his 39-year-old wife remained hospitalized in Anchorage after undergoing surgery. She was in critical but stable condition and hooked up to a ventilator to help her breathe, he said.

"I guess we're finally realizing there was an amazing amount of injury," he said. "Basically, one side of her body caved in."

Troopers said it was too soon in their investigation to say if they will pursue criminal charges against Tickett or Cleveland, who both live in the village of Ambler. Complicating the case, the victims already had been taken to the local hospital by the time troopers were notified and made it to the scene, said Sgt. Karl Main.

Toxicology tests will help gauge how much alcohol was involved. Troopers also are reviewing the 911 call initially made to local police and they plan to interview Tracy Schaeffer when her condition allows.

"We're still trying to determine what really happened," Main said.

Tracy Schaeffer told her husband she had flashed her headlamp toward the snowmobile as it sped up from behind, but it slammed into the sled anyway. Main said investigators also are looking into this.

The impact scattered the 10 dogs, but they were later rounded up in good condition.

Chuck Schaeffer said he finally was able to speak to Gollub's wife, listed in state records as Diane Abrahams-Gollub. He said they both noted that the doctor died doing something he long wanted to try.

"He was pretty excited to do it," Schaeffer said. "I think that was a comfort to both us."

The trail travels over Kotzebue Sound when it freezes each winter, joining a network linking area villages. Snowmobilers, dog teams, even walkers use the trails and mishaps are not unheard of, said Schaeffer, a musher himself who had a close call with a drunk snowmobiler years ago.

To combat that kind of risk, troopers and regional officials occasionally produce public safety announcements. They plan to do so again in response to this week's collision, Main said.

"Unfortunately, for some people it takes these kinds of incidents to remember to be careful," he said. "But the warning is only as serious as the people receiving it. If they feel invincible, chances are the warning will fall on deaf ears. I hope in incidents like this that will not be case."

Ambler snowmachiner charged in doctor' s death
MURDER: Troopers say man had been smoking marijuana, drinking and doing cocaine.

Published: February 14th, 2009

An Ambler man has been charged with second-degree murder in the November snowmachine-dog sled collision that killed a children's doctor near Kotzebue, troopers said Saturday.

Alaska State Troopers say 20-year-old Patrick L. Tickett had been drinking, smoking marijuana and doing cocaine the day his snowmachine slammed into an Anchorage physician who was trying his hand at mushing.

A Kotzebue grand jury indicted Tickett on Friday for assault and drunken driving in addition to the murder charge.

He's accused of killing Anchorage pediatrician Roger Gollub, 53, on Nov. 19. Gollub sometimes traveled north to treat children in the Kotzebue area.

"He (Tickett) did say that his goggles were fogging up, yet he never slowed down," said Trooper Sgt. Karl Main, who estimated Tickett was going as fast as 60 miles per hour on a dark trail used by skiers, snowmachiners and mushers about three miles outside of Kotzebue when he hit the dog sled.

In accidental deaths, state law allows drivers to be charged with second-degree murder -- rather than, say, a lesser charge of manslaughter -- if their actions show an "extreme indifference to human life," Main said.

In this case, troopers say Tickett's drug use, drinking and high speed factored in the charge.

Authorities couldn't find Tickett in Kotzebue on Friday to arrest him, and said he has family in Anchorage.


The night of the crash Gollub was driving a dog team owned by local musher Tracey Schaeffer, who rode in the sled.

Schaeffer, who was critically injured in the collision, later told troopers she tried to shine a headlamp to alert Tickett and his passenger, 20-year-old Clarissa Cleveland, as the snowmachine quickly approached.

Tickett told troopers he didn't see the dog team until it was too late, according to Main.

The crash severed Gollub's right leg and caused "serious internal injuries," Main said. Schaeffer, an occupational therapist, frantically tried to tend to the doctor as the pair waited as long as an hour for help to arrive, Main said.

Schaeffer said that after the crash, she told Tickett and Cleveland that one of them should stay while the other went for help, according to troopers.

"Even though she was begging them to stay, they got up and left," Main said.

Tickett tried to re-start his snowmachine to go for aid, according to troopers. When that didn't work, Tickett started walking back to Kotzebue.

Cleveland, who had tried to help Schaeffer call for help on a VHF radio, left too, troopers said.

"In her words, she panicked and ran away from the area. Caught up with Patrick Tickett, and eventually, you know, they made their way back to Patrick's house where they called the police and reported the collision," Main said.

Under Alaska law, you're required to help an injured person after a crash, Main said. But that only applies to drivers. Since Cleveland was a passenger, she wasn't charged with a crime, the trooper said.

Tickett admitted he'd been drinking and smoking pot that day, Main said. His blood-alcohol level was .067 about four hours after the accident, leading investigators to believe he was above the legal limit of .080 at the time of the crash.

Toxicology tests showed signs of cocaine in his system too, Main said.

The crash put Schaeffer in critical condition, and her husband told The Associated Press in November that doctors in Anchorage operated on her heart and removed her spleen. Main said she's since returned to Kotzebue.

A pediatrician for the Indian Health Service, Gollub moved from New Mexico to Anchorage in late 2001 and worked at the Alaska Native Medical Center.

He had retired from full-time work in September after a 30-year career.

Find Kyle Hopkins online at or call him at 257-4334.

Murder or accident? Trial opens in death by snowmachine

TESTIMONY STARTS: Trial lawyers debate significance of details.

By KYLE HOPKINS,, Published: January 19th, 2011

In November 2008, Diane Abrahams-Gollub lost her husband, Anchorage physician Roger Gollub, when a snowmachine slammed into him as he was mushing in Kotzebue. On Wednesday, Abrahams-Gollub was the first witness in the murder trial of the 22-year-old man charged with being intoxicated and causing the crash.

She carried a memento with her to the Kotzebue courthouse, Abrahams-Gollub said in a short phone interview after the hearing: one of her husband's short-sleeved, plaid shirts. The kind he wore to work as a pediatrician at the Alaska Native Medical Center before his death.

"I'm looking forward to some justice," Abrahams-Gollub said.

But a defense attorney for Patrick Tickett, of Ambler, says his client isn't at fault and was thinking clearly that night. The death was a tragic accident that the snowmachiner could not avoid, attorney Eric Derleth argued, in no small part because the first-time musher wore white camouflage snow gear that hid him from view along the sea ice.

Tickett said the same when he called 911 the night of the accident and reported the musher was wearing all white on the snowy trail. "I didn't see him until he was right in front of me," the snowmachiner said according to a tape of the call played in court Wednesday.

The crash severed Gollub's leg and broke his spine, according to prosecutors. Tickett, who was 20 at the time of the crash, is charged with second-degree murder, drunken driving and first-degree felony assault.

As the long-awaited trial takes shape this week, the big question of whether Gollub's death was murder or an accident hinges on the details.

The snowmachiner admitted to smoking marijuana and drinking before the trip, but was he legally drunk? What could he really see on the trail? How effective was the headlamp that Kotzebue musher Tracey Schaeffer tried to use to alert the approaching snowmachine as she rode in the dogsled?

As the trial opened in Kotzebue, lawyers for both sides retold the events surrounding the collision. Then, as they trial got under way with the first testimony, they asked Kotzebue residents who helped with a rescue attempt and other witnesses to fill in the gaps.

Gollub, a primary-care pediatrician, sometimes visited Kotzebue to see patients, his wife said. He'd been looking forward to trying his hand at mushing, thanks to Schaeffer, an occupational therapist with a dog team, according to news reports at the time.

On Nov. 19, 2008, the doctor had finished work and met Schaeffer, who lives outside of town and was staying at a friend's house, said assistant attorney general Gregg Olson with the state's rural prosecutions unit.

Gollub borrowed a pair of bunny boots and white Northern Outfitters parka and pants, the prosecutor said. They left to go mushing about 6:45 p.m.

The pair traveled at a leisurely pace, with Schaeffer eventually giving Gollub a chance to drive the team as she rode in the sled, Olson said.

That same night, Tickett was with his friend Clarissa Cleveland, the prosecutor said.

At some point in the evening the pair smoked marijuana, Olson said. Tickett later would tell authorities he took two to four swigs or drinks from a bottle of R&R whiskey, lawyers told the jury.

Later, Tickett left Kotzebue to give Cleveland a snowmachine ride out of town. The collision occurred about four miles from Kotzebue.

Schaeffer and her dog team could hear the snowmachine coming, Olson said. Schaeffer took off her head lamp and, reaching around Gollub, waved the light horizontally to signal that someone else was on the dark trail.

Schaeffer heard the snowmachine slow down, then start up again, Olson said. Then came the crash.

But Derleth, Tickett's lawyer, said the snowmachiner never saw the light nor should have been expected to.

"(Gollub) had no reflector on. He had no lights on. There was no strobe lights," said the lawyer, who plans to call an expert on human perception and response to testify later in the trial.

The defense lawyer also questioned why Schaeffer didn't move the sled team out of the trail.

Troopers estimated at the time that Tickett had been traveling at about 60 miles an hour.

Tickett's blood alcohol content, tested hours later, just before midnight, was 0.069 percent, Olson said in court. Derleth challenged that figure, saying a Colorado alcohol expert found Tickett's blood alcohol content to be about 0.05.

The legal limit for drunken driving is 0.08. Troopers have also said signs of cocaine were found in Tickett's system.

Tickett was convicted of minor consuming alcohol in 2007 and of violating conditions of release in 2009.

In an unrelated case, Tickett also was charged with second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and second-degree sexual assault in 2009. No disposition for that case is listed in online state court records, and lawyers for both sides declined to discuss it.

The second-degree murder trial is scheduled to continue today before Superior Court Judge Ben Esch.

Read The Village, the ADN's blog about rural Alaska, at Twitter updates: Call Kyle Hopkins at 257-4334.

Snowmachiner ruled culpable in collision death near Kotzebue
KOTZEBUE: Jury finds 22-year-old man guilty of multiple charges.

By KYLE HOPKINS,, Published: February 2nd, 2011

A Kotzebue jury found snowmachiner Patrick Tickett guilty Tuesday of manslaughter, first-degree assault and drunken driving in the 2008 death of an Anchorage doctor.

Tickett, now 22, was driving a snowmachine on a trail outside of Kotzebue when he slammed into Roger Gollub, who was trying his hand at dog mushing for the first time.

Tickett's lawyer, Eric Derleth, argued that the death was a tragic accident that the snowmachiner could not have avoided.

Tickett called 911 the night of the accident, telling authorities that the musher was wearing all white on the snowy trail. "I didn't see him until he was right in front of me," the snowmachiner said according to a tape of the call played Jan. 19 in the Kotzebue court house.

Tickett's blood alcohol content, tested hours after the crash, was 0.069 percent, assistant attorney general Gregg Olson said in court. Kotzebue musher Tracey Schaeffer was seriously injured in the crash, suffering broken ribs, a shattered spleen, damaged aorta and other injuries, she said.

Schaeffer said Wednesday she was "satisfied" with the verdict.

"I hope the younger generation of kids in this region and throughout rural Alaska can look at this and realize they have the power to make different choices; to not die or kill drinking and driving, and that all of us need to be personally responsible for our actions," she wrote in an e-mail.

Sentencing is planned for May, said Gollub's wife, Diane Abrahams-Gollub.

Tickett was originally charged with second-degree murder. State Superior Court Judge Ben Esch did not find sufficient evidence to sustain the charge, according to Alaska Newspapers Inc.

Under state law, a person commits manslaughter if he or she "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes the death of another person under circumstances not amounting to murder in the first or second degree."

Read The Village, the ADN's blog about rural Alaska, at Twitter updates: Call Kyle Hopkins at 257-4334.