Slick, snowy roads trigger dozens of C. O. crashes
Updated On: Dec 17 2012 08:59:55 PM CST
A storm raking Oregon blew into the High Desert with rain, then snow and wind, causing more tricky, troublesome driving and dozen more crashes Monday morning, also triggering power outages and prompting a two-hour delay in Bend-La Pine Schools classes.
Deschutes County 911 dispatchers reported 23 crash reports between midnight and 1:30 p.m. -- and that doesn't include the many more in Jefferson and Crook counties, or the dozens that occurred on slick roads over the weekend.
Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported, unlike Saturday's two crashes that led to three fatalities.
Shortly before 6:30 a.m., Bryan Anderson, 37 of Bend, lost control of his Chevy pickup on Powell Butte Highway near the intersection with Alfalfa Road, said Crook County Undersheriff John Gautney. It ran up the embankment on the north side of the highway and rolled onto its side as it came back down.
A county road department truck driver came upon the scene and helped Anderson get out of his truck, Gautney said, adding that the driver was unhurt and declined medical attention at the scene,
The National Weather Service dropped its blizzard warning Monday morning but moved to a winter weather advisory until 3 p.m. for areas above 4,000 feet (the La Pine-Sunriver area). At times, snow squalls created near-whiteout conditions in Bend and other areas Monday morning.
ODOT and forecasters warned of hazardous driving on Highway 97 south of Bend and highways 20 and 26 over the Cascades, and crews worked several crashes and slide-offs during the morning commute and the later hours.
Down in Oregon Wwater Wonderland, Joe Powell said over 17 inches of snow were on the ground by Monday afternoon -- but not for long.
"Thank goodness for snow blowers!" he said.
In Tumalo, a juniper tree blew onto a main Central Electric Cooperative feeder line around 2 a.m., knocking out power to 92 homes, said CEC Member Services Director Jeff Beaman. Most had power back by 6:30 a.m., though a few still were out later as crews repaired a "tap line," Beaman said.
Oregon State Police on Sunday identified three victims of fatal traffic crashes north of Redmond and near McKenzie Bridge, both tied to snowy, slick highways.
More slide-off and rollover crashes were reported Sunday morning after a string of at least a dozen Saturday evening and night. Police said most likely involved drivers going too fast for the conditions, which could be deceptive – a thin layer of snow over ice and temperatures close to freezing, which makes them extremely slick.
Accidents from slide-offs to rollovers were reported across the area Saturday evening. The worst in Central Oregon was a two-car crash reported around 6:30 p.m. on Highway 97 near milepost 113 north of Redmond that killed two Vancouver, Wash. residents and injured a third.
According to OSP Sgt. David Pond, a 2012 Ford Focus driven by Justin Hendrix, 19, of Madras, was northbound on Highway 97 near milepost 114, followed by a 2000 Ford F250 crew-cab pickup driven by Richard Bruce Fraker, 68, of Vancouver, Washington.
Pond said the Ford pickup attempted to pass the passenger car in a prohibited passing area on the snow-covered road when the pickup's driver lost control.
Fraker's pickup collided with Hendrix's car, and both vehicles traveled off the east side of the highway, he said.
Hendrix brought his car to a controlled stop, Pond said, while the pickup rolled onto its top off the highway, trapping its three occupants until fire crews could extricate them.
An OSP officer drove up onto the scene and started emergency medical care until relieved by firefighters and paramedics from Redmond Fire & Rescue.
Fraker and front-seat passenger Terry Anne Clampitt, 47, were pronounced dead at the scene. Rear passenger Barbara Fraker, 67, was injured and taken by ambulance to St. Charles-Redmond, where a nursing supervisor said she was in fair condition Sunday. All three were from Vancouver, Pond said.
Hendrix and his two passengers, ages 14 and 18, were not injured, troopers said.
OSP troopers from the Bend and Madras offices responded to the scene. Local emergency responding agencies and ODOT assisted. The highway was partially blocked, with traffic getting through the area while emergency responders were on scene.
Other crashes in the area included one on the southbound Bend Parkway near the Reed Market Road exit, the Brookswood Boulevard-Powers Road roundabout and a rollover on Highway 20 at the Old Bend-Redmond Highway west of Bend.
In the Reed Market Road crash, just before 5 p.m., police said a southbound car slid out of control, jumped the median and collided with a northbound car. Another car rear-ended the crash scene moments later. All involved refused medical treatment at the scene and were not transported to the hospital, officers said.
Later, a car ran off Deschutes Market Road east of Deschutes Junction and reportedly struck a tree. Another rollover crash on Highway 20W caused minor injuries.
And around 9:30 p.m., Deschutes County sheriff's deputies were dispatched to a reported injury head-on crash at Deschutes Market Road and Dale Road, east of Deschutes Junction. One person had to be cut out of the wreckage after the crash, which shut the northbound lane of Deschutes Market Road for a time.
ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy said the agency called in extra crews earlier Saturday due to the snowy conditions, but roads still were reported to be treacherous in numerous locations, such as Hwy. 126 on the grade west of Prineville, shut for a time for sanding and de-icing work.
Earlier Saturday, the snowy roads already had proved deadly just west of the Cascades crest, with a single-vehicle fatal crash on Hwy. 126E just east of McKenzie Bridge .
Troopers said around 1:25 p.m., a 1979 Ford pickup driven by William Gotter, 71, of Springfield, was eastbound on Highway 126E near milepost 51 negotiating a sweeping left curve when he lost control on the snow/ice covered roadway. The pickup traveled off the south shoulder and overturned on its side in a ditch.
The driver's 67-year old wife/passenger, Marilyn Louise Gotter, was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was not injured. Both were using seat belts, troopers said
The snowy weekend began with very cold readings. Bend reported a low of 12 degrees Saturday morning and 14 in Redmond, though there were single-digit readings reported in the La Pine area.
A weather spotter northeast of Bend reported 2 inches of snow had fallen in 24 hours by midday Sunday, while one in Sunriver recorded 2.3 inches and another northwest of Bend reported 3 inches. Two reports of 2 1/2 to nearly 3 inches came from the Prineville area, while a Redmond-area spotter reported nearly an inch of snow.
Winds were gusting to 30-40 mph around the High Desert Sunday evening, though the storm also dropped 10 inches of new snow at Hoodoo Ski Area and 8 inches at Mt. Bachelor.
The storm was hitting hard west of the Cascades, where some 25,000 Pacific Power customers were in the dark as of 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
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