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Freezing rain causes numerous accidents on Southeast Missouri roadways

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

(Photo)
ELIZABETH DODD ~ edodd@semissourian.com
A vehicle with two passengers slid off an icy side street into a ditch on North Kingshighway near the Bank of Missouri and Rhodes gas station around 11 a.m. Tuesday. No one was injured.
Early morning freezing rain in Southeast Missouri resulted in numerous traffic accidents throughout the area and led to canceled classes for students at one school system.

Freezing rain blanketed the area before the Tuesday morning commute, causing about 40 accidents in Cape Girardeau alone before 1 p.m. and unsafe walking conditions for workers, holiday travelers and shoppers. But by the afternoon, roads in Cape Girardeau and surrounding counties improved as road crews continued to battle ice and temperatures started to rise above freezing.

By a little after 1 p.m. all major routes in Cape Girardeau were free of ice, said Robert Kutak, Cape Girardeau traffic operations manager. Road crews were concentrating on secondary roads and dead-ends as temperatures rose to around the freezing mark.

Cape Girardeau County emergency management director Dick Knaup Jr. said that earlier in the day, he received reports of extremely hazardous conditions and a number of motor vehicle accidents. Most of the icy roadways were simply wet or slushy by the afternoon.

Knaup said the roads presented a hazard to both motorists and pedestrians.

"We've had a number of ambulances respond to calls where the young and old alike have slipped and fallen," he said.

In Scott County, emergency management director Joel Evans said secondary roads and sidewalks still posed a threat Tuesday afternoon.

"We're still not out of the woods," Evans said while driving along U.S. 61, where he said numerous accidents happened during the morning, along with accidents on Highway 77 and Interstate 55. Evans said he hoped ice would be clear by sundown, but that largely depended on the temperature.

Scott Bechtold, Cape Girardeau County highway administrator, said crews of 12 to 15 people focused throughout the morning on roadways and areas that have been historically troublesome during icy periods. He said the majority of the work consisted of laying down cinders on the roadway.

In addition to Cape Girardeau police, the Missouri State Highway Patrol also responded to numerous crash reports in various parts of the area throughout the morning.

Among the accidents the highway patrol responded to was a crash at around 6:40 a.m. on I-55 near Route M in Perry County when William D. Tetley of Jackson lost control of his 1998 Ford F-150 on an ice-covered roadway, traveled off the interstate and overturned.

At around 7:25 a.m. on County Road 413 near Dexter, Mo., Sherri K. Link of Wappapello, Mo., totaled her 2005 Chrysler after sliding off the left side of the roadway and striking a tree.

And at around 9 a.m. at mile marker 114 on I-55 northbound, Lola K. Harry of Hazelwood, Mo., totaled her 2004 Toyota as she traveled off the left side of the roadway and overturned, ejecting a passenger in the vehicle.

Kutak said his crews sprayed bridge decks and hilly streets with brine and calcium chloride Monday evening. A crew of 12 trucks arrived at 5 a.m. Tuesday to continue treating the roadways and completed main thoroughfares by 9 a.m. before moving onto the remaining roadways.

In Jackson, a thin layer of ice prompted crews to place cinders on the roadway so motor vehicles could get better traction.

Today's forecast calls for a 70 percent chance of rain and a high of 54 degrees. Tonight's forecast is party cloudy and a low of 23 degrees.

Online products manager Matt Sanders contributed to this report.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628


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