WASILLA— Joe Fedewa was the one driving that gold Buick on Vine Road on Nov. 30 during the 7.0 earthquake. Images of his car stranded in the middle of the ravaged road spread online quickly, leading many curious about the story behind it.
On the day of the quake, local YouTube adventure vlogger Dmitry Kudryn ventured to Vine Road to record himself assessing the damage and talking to several people who wanted to inspect it themselves. He utilized his personal drone to record bird’s eye views of the almost apocalyptic-looking road.
Kudryn said that after posting his initial earthquake video, he found out he wasn’t the only one curious who was driving that Buick. He said that he got numerous messages asking if he got in touch with the driver. He eventually interviewed Fedewa at his home in Big Lake and published a follow up video on Dec. 28, 2018.
Vine Road was hit the hardest of all Valley roads, tearing the pavement and ground apart in a very dramatic fashion. While Kudryn was recording himself driving to Fedewa’s home, he said that what happened on the road seemed like something out of Hollywood movie but was very much real.
Fedewa said that he was driving down Vine around 8:30 a.m., going about 45 to 50 miles per hour when he was caught in the quake. He was on his way to the Wasilla Fred Meyer to pick up some groceries. He said that when he first started to notice his car moving around, he thought it might’ve been the ice but he kept going. He said that before he knew it, there was a big bang, he felt himself going downward and the airbags went off.
“I couldn’t see anything,” Fedewa said.
Fedewa said that he missed several crevasses and the wall of dirt and concrete that raised up right in front of him, narrowly avoiding a serious head on collision with the mass. He said that he ended up on the only spot that was level. He said that if he just left his home five seconds earlier or later, he likely wouldn’t have been caught on Vine.
“It was perfect timing. It’s amazing,” Fedewa said.
Fedewa said that he wanted people to know he wasn’t an expert driver and he didn’t walk away from this encounter due to his skills. He instead gave credit to a higher power.
“Every time I see something that’s out of the ordinary like this, I think God’s really involved in this stuff,” Fedewa said. “It wasn’t my time but someday it will be.”
Kudryn said that he had some help from his colleagues from the company technology accessory company Crave to create a 3-D animation of Fedewa’s car getting caught in the quake. He noted that his YouTube channel is not affiliated with the company in any way but he was inspired by the word Crave when he was coming up with a name for the channel. He said that he started his channel to record his Alaskan adventures, venturing all over the state.
“It’s such a great way to enjoy our state,” Kudryn said.
On top of the 3-D reenactment, the video also depicts a scene with angel wings floating above Fedewa’s car, to illustrate what they both saw as a divine intervention.
“You definitely had an angel over you that day,” Kudryn said.
That angelic scene was one of Fedewa’s favorite parts of the video.
“When the car came with the wings, I was like, ‘wow!’” Fedewa said with a laugh.
Kudryn said that on Nov. 30, there were dozens of people checking out the road. He said that he saw people climbing in crevasses and he wasn’t sure if that was a good idea in case there was an aftershock. He recalled saying to himself, “Hopefully it doesn’t shake again and decides to close up.”
Luckily for everyone, that did not happen. The 2018 quake had no casualties.
“What was really cool, there was no loss of life… You know, people went through some real challenging things and Joe was definitely, probably the top five I think,” Kudryn said.
Kudryn told Fedewa that he was really inspired by his story and his attitude about it.
“You basically gave credit to God for it… I really connected with that well and I totally dig what you said. I think it’s very true. I think things happen at the right time, to maybe send a good message to our community. Nothing happens without a reason right?” Kudryn said.
Kudryn said that he too lives in Big Lake and after conducting that initial interview, he found out he only lives about four miles away from Fedewa.
“It turned out we were kinda’ neighbors anyway,” Kudryn said with a laugh.
Kudryn created a GoFundMe page for Fedewa to raise $5,000 to replace the severely damaged Buick. So far, people have donated $430.
“Whatever happens with this GoFundMe thing, I am just so tickled. Where it is right now is amazing- that people I don’t even know would do such a thing,” Fedewa said.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org