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Icy roads caused 47 crashes in city

December 24, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Icy road conditions caused 47 traffic accidents in the City of Hagerstown between midnight and 8 a.m. Wednesday, Police Chief Arthur Smith said.

Salt wasn't spread on the streets immediately because only a partial crew was on duty, according to a city official.

Smith said one of the accidents was a seven-vehicle pileup that involved a fire truck in the 400 block of Jefferson Boulevard. Only one person suffered a minor injury throughout the course of the night, he said.

Smith said the Hagerstown Police Department, which was fully staffed Christmas Eve, still was responding at about 9:40 a.m. to accidents that officers had been too busy to get to earlier.

"We've been busy," Smith said. "It's been a tough night ... We can't go below our normal staffing levels -- even on Christmas."

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Hagerstown Public Works Director Eric Deike said salt wasn't spread on the streets when they first began to freeze because only a partial crew was working early Wednesday. It took a while longer, he said, for additional workers to arrive after they were called in.

Deike said a full crew, which has about nine workers, wasn't on duty because Wednesday was Christmas Eve. In addition, weather forecasts hadn't called for the high amount of ice that eventually accumulated on the streets, he said.

As soon as a full crew was available, workers started to hit the worst areas, Deike said.

"The police said where those (areas) were," he said.

People on foot also ran into problems Wednesday.

Maureen Theriault, a spokeswoman for Washington County Hospital, said 10 of the 12 ambulances that came in Wednesday morning were carrying people with ice-related injuries.

She said ambulance drivers didn't report being in any accidents.

"They drove slower because of the ice," she said. "They had some extended time getting in, but they made it."

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