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Wreck kills area woman

January 06, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

TRI-STATE - A snowstorm that had already taken its toll on motorists and emergency personnel throughout the Tri-State area Sunday claimed the life of a young Pennsylvania woman, injured in a mid-morning accident along Interstate 81 near Hagerstown.

Andrea Lynn Gantt, 19, of 7144 Olde Scotland Road in Shippensburg, Pa., was the driver and sole occupant of a 1998 Plymouth Breeze that went out of control and skidded off the right side of the road, where the driver's side crashed into a tree near the Maugansville Road exit at 10:42 a.m., Cpl. T.J. McKenrick said.

Gantt, who underwent surgery late Sunday afternoon, was pronounced dead at 7:36 p.m., according to Sgt. Steve McCarty of the Maryland State Police.

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Among the other vehicles that had problems negotiating the wintry roads were a Washington County ambulance and a Frederick County, Md., fire truck, both of which wrecked as they were responding to calls.

"We had very minor damage and no injuries," said Lt. James Ullrich of Smithsburg Emergency Medical Services. A vehicle slid into the ambulance on the Antietam Creek bridge on Md. 64 around 2:30 p.m., Ullrich said.

The Smithsburg ambulance had just dropped a patient off at Washington County Hospital and was on its way to another wreck when the accident occurred.

Just after 10 a.m. Sunday, a Braddock Heights Fire Co. fire truck skidded on a hill and rolled down an embankment on Old Swimming Pool Road, striking a motorist who was out of his car assisting the occupants of a disabled vehicle, Frederick County Sheriff's deputies said.

John Main, 44, of Hawbottom Road in Middletown, Md., was transported to Washington County Hospital, where he was in critical condition Sunday night, a nursing supervisor said.

A passenger in the fire truck, Jamie L. Daily, 25, was admitted to Washington County Hospital in fair condition, the supervisor said.

The driver of the fire truck and another firefighter were treated and released from Frederick (Md.) Memorial Hospital, deputies said.

A Washington County 911 dispatcher said a dozen accident calls were received between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday. Most resulted in minor or no injuries.

Police in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle also stayed busy responding to wrecks as the snow continued to fall into Sunday evening.

Dispatchers with Berkeley County's 911 center estimated that police responded to about 20 crashes, although none was considered serious.

At about 1 p.m., a car went into an embankment on W.Va. 9 near Opequon Creek, causing traffic to back up on the highway, dispatchers said.

Dispatchers in Jefferson and Morgan counties said none of the wrecks in their areas was serious.

Snow forced officials with Berkeley County Schools and Jefferson County Schools to cancel classes today. Morgan County will operate on a two-hour delay, dispatchers said.

At presstime Sunday, Washington County Public Schools scheduled a two-hour delay for today with no morning kindergarten. The delay may be re-evaluated this morning, said Carol Mowen, schools spokeswoman.

Franklin County, Pa., had not announced plans about delays or closures by presstime Sunday.

While the Snow Emergency Plan in Washington County wasn't enacted until noon Sunday, road crews were already out in force.

"The roads are very slippery, even after we plow," said Washington County Highways Chief Ted Wolford. "In some places, it's like glass."

Wolford said he and all his personnel had been out since early morning, including private contractors.

Charles Fogle, maintenance chief at the State Highway Administration in Hagerstown, said Interstates 81 and 70 were in pretty good shape by mid-afternoon Sunday.

"We've all been out since 8:30 a.m.," Fogle said.

In Hagerstown, 2.7 inches of snow was reported by the Greg Keefer weather station as of 7:20 p.m. Sunday.

About 3 inches of snow fell in Chambersburg, Pa., causing about two dozen car crashes, Pennsylvania State Police said.

"It's mostly people driving off the road and hitting fixed objects like telephone poles and guardrails or people sliding into the median," Cpl. R.K. Marshall said.

The most serious accident in Franklin County occurred shortly after 2 p.m. at 2105 Buchanan Trail East in Shady Grove, Pa., Marshall said.

A 1990 Nissan was westbound at 2:12 p.m. when it went out of control on the snow-covered road and hit a utility pole, said Pennsylvania State Police in Chambersburg, Pa.

A passenger was ejected through the rear window, police said. No information was available on that person's condition.

The bulk of the storm ended in Franklin County around 7 p.m., with light snow continuing into the night, said Jerry Ashway, a Chambersburg-area weather watcher.

Sunday's snow came on the heels of a storm Friday that dropped 2 inches. Combined with totals from earlier this winter, Franklin County is approaching the 20-inch mark, Ashway said.

"That's well above normal. In December alone, snowfall was about 255 percent of normal," he said. "I almost thought my weather program was wrong when it said 255 percent, but I checked the numbers and it is right."

In a normal winter, the region sees about 5 inches of snow in December and 6 to 7 inches in January, according to Ashway.

Staff writers Stacey Danzuso and Dave McMillion contributed to this story.

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