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Freezing Drizzle Creates Nightmare for Friday Night Drivers

December 18, 2016

Area police departments were inundated with reports of wrecks and vehicles sliding off the road Friday night after freezing drizzle moved across the region.

I-57 seemed to have the highest concentration of problems, many involving vehicles that slid off the road. Two of those wrecks involved injuries.

State Police say two Mount Pleasant, Michigan residents were injured when their car hit an icy spot on southbound I-57 three miles north of Farina. The driver, 39-year-old Heather Dawn Cato, lost control and slid off the right side of the roadway and overturned. Both Cato and a passenger, 22-year-old Paige Pontarola, were transported to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Effingham by Farina Ambulance Service for non-life threatening injuries. State Police say no citations were issued. The crash occurred at 7:22 Friday night.

The second crash occurred on the I-57 southbound exit ramp at Edgewood. State Police say the bottom of the exit ramp was blocked by a truck tractor-semi trailer that jack knifed across the entire exit ramp, causing vehicles traveling down the ramp to attempt to stop and park on the exit ramp’s shoulder. Among them was 46-year-old Francisco Ruiz of Toledo, Ohio. He had just exited his pickup when a car driven by a 17-year-old juvenile from Iola lost control on the icy surface and struck the rear of Ruiz’s truck. The juvenile driver was transported by private vehicle to St. Anthony Memorial Hospital for medical attention.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Department was called to I-57 ten times to wrecks or vehicles running off the road. None involved injuries.

Centralia Police handled one wreck with injuries as the freezing rain began to fall at 5:19 Friday night. Initial information indicates three people were transported to SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital following the two vehicle crash at 17th and Poplar. Centralia Police say reports are not yet complete.

Sheriff’s Deputies and Kell Firemen were called to a one vehicle wreck on the Exchange Road in rural Texico where a car went out of control on the ice covered pavement and overturned. Kell Fire Chief Lonnie McDaneld says the driver, Frank Johnson of Kell, declined medical treatment. His daughter, who was a passenger, was treated on the scene for a cut finger.

The sheriff’s department also responded to multiple other calls, mostly involving vehicles sliding off the roads.

The heavy volume of calls died down around midnight as temperatures rose above freezing and most of the heavily traveled roads had been salted to melt the ice.

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