And snow it goes

Many of the more than 40 accidents which occurred Friday during a snow storm, happened on Interstate 81 and Interstate 70.

Many of the more than 40 accidents which occurred Friday during a snow storm, happened on Interstate 81 and Interstate 70.

March 17, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

Washington County Emergency Services responded to almost 40 accidents involving possible injuries during a snow storm that blanketed Washington County's roadways Friday, said a dispatcher.

Many of those accidents happened on Interstate 81 and Interstate 70, and many of the calls were for single-vehicle accidents in which vehicles slid off the road, said the dispatcher.

None of those accidents, including one that involved a Washington County school bus, were fatal, Maryland State Police and emergency dispatchers said.

In that accident, the school bus apparently slid into a station wagon at about 1:40 p.m. on Harpers Ferry Road, said Mike Markoe, assistant to the superintendent of Washington County Public Schools. The bus bumped its front end with that of the station wagon, he said.


"It was a minor fender-bender," Markoe said.

Deputy Kenneth Cain of the Washington County Sheriff's Office said the station wagon's occupants, Leila Shatzer of Canal Road near Sharpsburg and her 10-year-old grandson, were taken to Washington County Hospital for minor injuries. Shatzer was seen in the emergency room but not admitted Friday, said a hospital spokeswoman.

No one has been charged. Police are still investigating.

Markoe said the bus was carrying about 15 Boonsboro High School students when the accident occurred. The school system sent other vehicles to take the children home, he said.

Markoe said school officials will conduct an internal investigation of the accident.

No other buses were involved in accidents Friday, he said. At 3 p.m., all other buses returned safely.

The school system has 214 bus routes, Markoe said.

Another accident on Friday involved a Maryland State Police cruiser.

The state police reported that Walter Almendarez of Halethorpe, Md., lost control of a Ford pickup and collided with the rear of the cruiser Friday morning as it sat on the shoulder of U.S. 40 near St. Paul Road in Washington County.

Almendarez was traveling too fast for the slippery road conditions, the state police said. The state trooper, Almendarez and his three passengers were taken to Washington County Hospital and treated for minor injuries.

The Maryland State Police discouraged travel Friday unless it was absolutely necessary.

Conditions were no better through West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

An Emergency Services dispatcher in Berkeley County W.Va., said emergency crews had responded to about 60 vehicle accidents by 7 p.m. Many of the accidents involved a single vehicles sliding off the road, she said.

Emergency Services personnel in Jefferson County, W.Va., responded to about 35 vehicle accidents Friday night, a dispatcher said.

The Pennsylvania State Police in Chambersburg reported 12 accidents Friday evening as Pennsylvania road crews struggled with heavy snow and bad road conditions.

"Don't believe the groundhog again," said Dave Rock, the highway maintenance manager for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in Franklin County, Pa. Since Punxsatawney Phil failed to see his shadow on Feb. 2, thus predicting an early spring, most of this winter's snow storms have occurred.

PennDOT crews hit the roads at 4 p.m. treating them with a mixture of salt and anti-skid, Rock said. Snow plow crews were split in two, with half the workers coming in at 4 a.m. and being relieved at noon.

"We're definitely in the plowing mode now," Rock said at 2:40 p.m. Thirty-five state trucks and seven rental trucks were being used to keep state roads open, he said.

"I'm catching grief in the mountains," said Rock. Trucks were being slowed by the heavy snow or worse, getting caught in the backlog of traffic caused when other vehicles wrecked or got stuck.

With fair warning of the late-winter snow storm, school districts in Franklin County canceled schools. The Franklin County Courthouse, normally opened until 4:30 p.m., closed at 2 p.m. as about 4 inches of snow had by then fallen. Mandatory personnel for the jail, nursing home, 911 center and property management were to report as scheduled.

Police were busy as many motorists failed to deal with the slush-covered roads. A Washington Township Police Department employee said officers had been dealing with crashes throughout the morning and into the afternoon. A county 911 dispatcher said the center had been busy all day with vehicle accidents.

Power outages affected a few dozen Allegheny Power customers in Washington County, Frederick County and Berkeley County, W.Va., Friday night. More than 300 customers in Franklin County, Pa. were without power at about 10 p.m. Power was expected to be restored by the early morning Saturday, according to Allegheny Power's Web site, which provides power outage summaries.

Tri-state residents should get a break from the cold within a few days.

Accu Weather meteorologist John Pacheco said about four inches of snow fell by late Friday afternoon.

Temperatures danced around the high 20s and low 30s.

Light snow showers are expected today, but a warming trend is on the way, he said.

The snow should start melting next week when temperatures start to rise into the 40s, 50s and 60s, he said.

"By the end of next week, (the snow) should be gone," Pacheco said.

Staff writers Don Aines and Erin Julius contributed to this report.

The Herald-Mail Articles