Snow spawns crashes

December 06, 2003|by Staff & Team reports

Snow continued falling Friday across the Tri-State region, taxing area emergency services with dozens of traffic accidents on interstate highways and local roads.

A handful of people were taken to hospitals for scrapes and bruises.

As the weather chilled Friday evening, the accident rate began climbing.

While no serious accidents were reported within Hagerstown city limits by 7:30 p.m., drivers on roads throughout Washington County were finding treacherous conditions.

A Maryland State Police dispatcher at Hagerstown the Hagerstown said the western part of Interstate 70 near Hancock in Washington County was problematic earlier in the night, but accidents were starting to take place in the east as well.

One driver's car flipped on eastbound I-70 near Hagerstown, she said. When fire trucks rolled the car back over, the driver wanted to leave. Police found his license was suspended.


Otherwise, there had been "nothing major, just basically people sliding off the roadway," she said.

But the interstate highways weren't the only source of headaches for drivers and emergency responders.

Washington County Sheriff's Sgt. Travers Ruppert said at least four accidents took place within a few hours in the Rohrersville area.

"We've been down in the area of Porterstown Road, Trego Mountain Road and (Md.) Route 34 all night long," Ruppert said.

Just before 7 p.m., a pickup truck overturned near Chestnut Grove and Mount Briar roads, Ruppert said. The driver was unhurt.

Sheriff's deputies had three four-wheel drive vehicles on patrol, but Ruppert cautioned people to be careful.

"Two words: Stay home," he said. And at least through the morning, stay off the roads unless its absolutely necessary for health or work reasons.

West Virginia State Police Trooper John Droppleman said he and other troopers checked on about 10 wrecks Friday morning, none of which involved any serious injuries or damage.

The wrecks were scattered throughout the county, and Droppleman said several happened in the median of Interstate 81. Most of the cars could be driven away, he said.

A dispatcher with the Martinsburg Police Department said officers there handled a few fender-benders, but nothing major. Things also were quiet in Charles Town, said Mike Aldridge, chief of the Charles Town Police Department. "Knock on wood," he said.

Steve Allen, director of the Berkeley County Office of Emergency Services, said by the afternoon roads were slushy as opposed to snow-covered with a hidden layer of ice.

"There's a slew of them (wrecks) where people still are not going slow enough to stay safe," he said.

The area's main roads seemed clear, he said. "The Department of Highways is doing a great job," he said.

At noon, during a lull in the storm, a dispatcher with Jefferson County Central Dispatch said a couple of fires had been reported, but otherwise things seemed quiet.

"Believe it or not, we haven't had one accident," he said.

In Pennsylvania, state and Franklin County Central Dispatch officials also reported a few minor crashes due to the weather.

By late afternoon Friday, Dave Rock, manager of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation maintenance office in Chambersburg, Pa., said all roads had been cleared of snow.

Rock said crews went out at midnight to get a jump on clearing the roads.

"The snow stuck to the roads early on, but once we got chemicals on them, it was OK," he said.

Staff Writers Gregory T. Simmons, Candice Boseley and Richard F. Belisle contributed to this report.

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