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97 accidents reported Thursday in Washington County

Majority of accidents caused by storm that dumped a little more than 1 inch of snow in Hagerstown

December 17, 2010|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com

A majority of the 97 traffic accidents that were reported Thursday in Washington County were caused by a storm that quickly dropped more than an inch of snow, emergency officials said Friday.

Maryland State Police 1st Sgt. K.W. Lewis said troopers from the Hagerstown barrack handled 30 accidents, while Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said his department responded to 12 accidents, most of them fender benders.

"None of our accidents had life-threatening injuries," Lewis said. "There were some injuries, but the majority involved property damage. I actually handled a couple myself. I normally don't do that."

An additional 55 accidents were handled by the Washington County Sheriff's Office and smaller municipalities, said Bardonna Woods, director of communications at the Washington County 911 Center.

"We were overwhelmed with calls," she said. "We had to hold over one dispatcher. It was very busy. I think everything was handled adequately."

Meritus Medical Center spokeswoman Nicole Jovel said the emergency room saw 166 patients Thursday.

"Very minimal patients came in from auto accidents (Thursday)," said Jovel, noting that she couldn't comment on whether any of those patients were seriously injured.

Thursday's storm began at about 10:30 a.m. and dumped a little more than 1 inch of snow in Hagerstown. The temperature hovered around 17 degrees.

The storm prompted officials to activate the county's snow emergency plan from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The plan requires motorists to drive vehicles that are equipped with chains or snow tires designated by the manufacturer. Studded tires are allowed from Nov. 1 to March 31.

While a snow emergency is in effect, motorists may not park vehicles on any highway designated as a snow emergency route.

The storm produced lingering effects into Friday.

Washington County Public Schools delayed classes for two hours Friday morning, schools spokesman Richard Wright said.

In West Virginia, public schools in Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties were closed, according to the West Virginia Department of Education's website.

Washington County spokesman Norman Bassett said county employees with children are permitted to take liberal leave if school is delayed for a few hours. The leave gives them time to ensure their children make it to school.

"In that policy (it) stipulates — until noon — for those employees," Bassett said in an e-mail. "Yes, they would be expected to return to work."

Bassett said liberal leave is defined as leave time that has not been planned or scheduled in advance.

"This leave shall be charged against accrued annual or personal leave," Bassett said.

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