Ice storm blamed for fender benders, fatal crashes

Friday, January 12, 2007

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Three people died in three separate crashes Friday as a wintry mix of snow and ice began falling across parts of Missouri, leaving roads slick and dangerous, authorities said.

A 16-year-old boy on his way to school was killed in the Kansas City suburb of Lee's Summit when the pickup truck he was in slid on ice and overturned on an outer road of Missouri 291 north of Missouri 150, police said. The driver of the truck and another passenger were not seriously hurt.

Police Sgt. Mike Childs said driving conditions were "treacherous" at the time of the crash.

Later Friday morning, an 81-year-old man died after his sports utility vehicle slid off an icy stretch of Missouri 291 in Sugar Creek and overturned in a median.

The man, identified as Newell E. Waisner of Independence, was thrown from the vehicle. He was pronounced dead at Liberty Hospital. His son was treated at the scene.

Around 1 p.m., a 19-year-old woman was killed when she lost control of her car on an icy stretch of Missouri 13 in Henry County and was struck in the passenger side by an oncoming pickup. The Missouri State Highway Patrol identified the woman as Rebekah L. Maupin, of Clinton.

The weather forced a number of cancellations, including some airline flights at the Springfield-Branson National Airport.

Evan Bookbinder, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill, said widespread areas of freezing rain and sleet, along with some snow, were reported Friday across the Kansas City metropolitan area and as far east as Illinois.

The heaviest icing conditions were in central and southern Missouri, where there was an ice storm warning across the Ozark region and into St. Louis.

Ice accumulations from one-half to 1 inch were expected in an area along the Interstate 44 corridor, including Joplin, Springfield, St. Louis and Columbia. Lighter ice accumulations of one tenth of an inch were expected further north and eastward along the Missouri River.

He said temperatures also were dropping to the teens overnight, which could cause problems if ice covered limbs begin falling and knocking out power lines.

Jeff Briggs, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Transportation, said road crews were gearing up for a long weekend.

"We've got supplies of salt ready to go. Our trucks are hitting the road and our crews are going to be working 24-7 for what we anticipate will be the next several days," Briggs said. "We will keep at it until the roads are clear."

Brggs said the department would update a road conditions map at least every 30 minutes during the storm. He urged motorists to read the map -- or to stay home.

"First and foremost, we encourage anyone to avoid driving if at all possible," he said.

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