Monday, December 22, 2014

Slick roads ramp up I-35 wrecks

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 12/9/2013

Freezing temperatures mixed with light precipitation Sunday made for hazardous driving conditions late this weekend on a stretch of I-35 in Franklin County.

A trio of wrecks were reported in the 2600 block of I-35, near the I-35, U.S. 59 changeover in south Ottawa, Capt. Adam Weingartner, with the Ottawa Police Department, said Monday. All were non-injury, he said.

The first wreck occurred at 5:09 p.m. Sunday when a semi-trailer driven by Alex William Robert, 55, Payson, Utah, and a vehicle driven by David Strawder, 53, Ottawa, lost control because of the slick road conditions, according to a police report.

The second occurred at 5:12 a.m. Monday when Dan Roll, 60, Richmond, lost control of his vehicle and it struck a guard rail, according to the report.

The third happened less than an hour later at 5:59 a.m. when Larry Blades, 58, Princeton, lost control and his vehicle struck Roll’s disabled vehicle from the previous wreck.

Because of the number of wrecks in the same area, local law enforcement agencies had additional officers on duty to warn those traveling along I-35 to slow down sooner at the changeover in order to prevent more collisions, Weingartner said.

A number of wrecks also occurred outside the city limits, primarily on I-35 and U.S. 59, Jeff Richards, Franklin County sheriff, said Monday night. Richards did not have the total number of slide-offs and rollovers caused by the icy conditions in the county, but he said a few of them led to minor injuries and one more serious injury from a rollover wreck. Richards said Monday night he was at a meeting and did not have access to the reports for more details.

Richards said extra officers were on duty working the county’s highway’s and roads, including Undersheriff Rick Geist, Lt. Curtis Hall and himself.

“The [Kansas] Highway Patrol had four or five [troopers] working in the county, so they brought in extra resources as well,” Richards said.

Public works crews from both the city and county were out late Sunday and early Monday in hopes of cutting down on the number of wrecks, Andy Haney, Ottawa public works director, and Jim Haag, Franklin County public works director, both said.

“We got called at around dark [Sunday] night,” Haney said. “We had four salt and sand vehicles out [Sunday] night, and everyone was home by midnight. We were out treating sidewalks [Monday] morning.”

The county followed a similar work schedule.

Doug Carder, Herald Senior Writer, contributed to this report.

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